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There's a lot to unpack in Greta Gerwig's solo directing debut. The semi-autobiographical Lady Bird is a sensitive and truthful coming of age movie that digs deep into mother-daughter relationships, but it's also about coming from a small town and wanting to leave ASAP. It's a drama where you might recognize yourself, but it's a wry comedy too, with a lot of knowing smiles and laughs. Gerwig gives even the smallest character a nice moment. If there's a theme here, it's that no matter how much you rebel against it, you can't really deny where you came from. Saoirse Ronan's character has renamed herself "Lady Bird", has problems with her mother (a great performance from Laurie Metcalf), can't wait to leave Sacramento for college, etc. But through a novelistic accumulation of evidence, we're meant to understand that these rejections are futile, and that you can't exactly reinvent yourself from scratch. Thoughtful, funny, sad, and beautiful.
Did I miss something?? Extremely average/typical coming of age story.
I usually hate rebellious teen characters. This isn't a very popular opinion - rebellious teens drive a lot of cinematic stories. But I roll my eyes every time one comes on the screen, someone who thinks they're invincible, that what their parents say doesn't matter, with no moral compass to be found.
I cannot understate how surprised I was when Lady Bird ended and I did not feel this disdain for Christine a single time, even though she is a rebellious teenager.
How were Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan able to achieve this? Subtlety.
The camera just kind of follows the characters, we don't feel like we're watching actors on a set. And then something happens… BAM! The turns and cuts are so sharp.
And the message isn't in your face, waving its preachiness with obnoxious zeal (20th century women, I hated it). It's… subtle.
Gerwig and Ronan deserve the most praise out of anyone, although Laurie Metcalf will likely get some awards love.
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