Lady Bird (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Lady Bird</strong> (2017)

(Netflix Streaming, July 2018) One of the things I like best about cinema is its ability to make us sympathize with the oddballs who don’t quite fit in their surroundings. This goes double for teenage coming-of-age dramas such as Lady Bird, a film that strongly revolves (to the point of not even resolving the dramatic arcs of supporting character) around the self-consciously quirky Lady Bird, a teenager about to escape her Sacramento high school for the call of bigger-city higher education. It’s her last year in a town too small for her, but her cultivated eccentricity doesn’t mean that she’s a saint—her propensity for self-harm is spectacular, and much of the film’s plot is about her learning to like the people (mostly family) that she has pushed away. It’s frustrating, endearing and occasionally very funny (except when it isn’t). The protagonist herself is a good representation of the lengths through which teenagers will go to in order to establish themselves as distinct, much to their own expense. It’s a familiar film genre, but actress-turned-director Greta Gerwig manages to make it all seem fresh and interesting all over again, with substantial contributions from Saoirse Ronan (playing much younger than usual) and Laurie Metcalf in a complex role as a mom who can be her daughter’s worst enemy and best friend. I wasn’t expecting to like Lady Bird very much—and for much of the film, the vast gulf between the protagonist’s modest skills and her opinion of herself exasperated me to no end—but it eventually won me over. Even the affectionate portrayal of Sacramento is charming. While I’m not planning on re-watching Lady Bird any time soon, I think that a second viewing may be funnier knowing that everything will be all right in the end.

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