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Cinema Cindy Reviews 'Lady Bird'

on December 4, 2017 - 3:18pm
By CYNTHIA BIDDLECOMB
Los Alamos
 
“Lady Bird” is Greta Gerwig’s first solo venture into film writing and directing. It most assuredly won’t be her last! Lady Bird, though not quite autobiographical, is a heart-warming tale about a mother-daughter relationship, taking place in Gerwig’s hometown of Sacramento, California.
 
Lady Bird tells the story of high school senior Christine McPherson, who has given herself the name “Lady Bird”—“It’s my given name; I gave it to myself,” she says.
 
Convincing in the role of 17-year-old Lady Bird is Saoirse Ronan (star of the 2015 film, Brooklyn), who, at 23 years of age, has already been twice nominated for an Oscar. She nails this role. Superb as Lady Bird’s hard-working psych-nurse, mother Marion, is Laurie Metcalf (best known for her role on TV as Rosanne’s sister). If this film is not quite a slam-dunk for a Best Picture Oscar nomination, the acting of these two women most certainly is, and Gerwig ought to be nominated for her screenplay.
 
It’s Lady Bird’s senior year at a Catholic high school, a school considered by her parents to be safer for her than the public high school where her older, adopted brother Miguel had gone. Miguel is played by Jordan Rodrigues, while Miguel’s live-in girlfriend, Shelly, is played by Marielle Scott. Tracy Letts plays the financially struggling father, Larry McPherson. With Shelly kicked out by her own mother, Marion has allowed her to move in with Miguel, increasing their household to five family members.
 
Lady Bird’s first boyfriend, Danny, is played by Lucas Hedges, who starred with her, Saoirse Ronan, in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Playing Lady Bird’s loveable best friend Julie is Beanie Feldstein.
 
The structure of this film is a sequence of significant episodes of teenage angst in Lady Bird’s senior year. Each of the episodes delights, surprises, or is at least very humorous. We find ourselves laughing a lot in this movie. Perhaps it is that we can relate to Lady Bird’s 12th grade stresses, including shifting friendships, dating relationships, and college applications. Any parent who saw a daughter through high school might find this movie hits pretty close to home.
 
An additional delight of the film is its very human portrayal of teachers, priests and nuns at the school, many of them truly endearing. Especially dear is the fondness Sister Sara Joan (Lois Smith) exhibits for Lady Bird. Stephen Henderson (Fences) plays Father Leviatch, a warm, if emotional presence with the drama class. Another key character in the film is the city of Sacramento itself—“the Mid-West of California”—portrayed during the school year of 2002-2003.
 
Lady Bird is “Rated R for language, sexual content, brief graphic nudity and teen partying”. The dialogue of this film is key to its enjoyment, so keep that in mind when determining whether Lady Bird is for you. It feels, as one reviewer noted, like you are watching a documentary rather than a fictional story. For a parent watching it, you may go home thinking about complementing your teenagers more often.

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