Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Review: Lady Bird

Lady Bird
Cert: 15 / 94 mins / Dir. Greta Gerwig / Trailer

To That London now, and the slightly sniffy suburb of Kensington to watch Greta Gerwig's directorial debut, Lady Bird.

Beginning in Sacramento, California in 2002, the film follows high-schooler Christine (Saoirse Ronan), who is in the process of reinventing herself as 'Lady Bird', while trying to get accepted in a college far away from the city she feels she's outgrown, but also trying desperately to find her place while she's still there. It's a wonderful story of how everything is a right old fucking drama when you're a teenager, around half of it justifiably so. Scenes ensue.

Taking place over the course of about a year, Gerwig's screenplay is more a threaded series of vignettes than an outright coming-of-age tale. The focus here is on character and performance rather than narrative, and while this is a dedicated, affectionate work, my enjoyment was more limited to technical appreciation, smiles and laughs than forming any real, emotional connection. Then again, this is my stumbling block, not the film's, as it's clearly a very personal piece for its writer/director.

Preparing to leave a staunch Catholic school, Christine is at the point where stealing a jar of communion wafers to idly eat as snacks with her best friend isn't intended as an act of rebellion, just restless boredom; frustration at the imminent realisation that the thing actually holding Lady Bird back is probably going to be herself. Ronan is fantastic of course, although she's rarely anything but*1. Laurie Metcalf delivers a brittle, complex performance as Christine's embattled mum, and of all the relationships we see with the youngster's contemporaries, Lucas Hedges' Danny was the one I wanted more screen-development of. But in that regard, the movie is uncannily lifelike - lots of emotive noise threatening to drown out the things we should really be focusing on.

I enjoyed Lady Bird, I just didn't love it. Then again, this is a cultural snapshot of things I have no real frame of reference for, so that's not entirely surprising. But at the same time, I'd watch Saoirse Ronan reading the Yellow Pages for two hours, so…

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
The Diary Of A Teenage Girl, Wish I Was Here, and maybe Boyhood (but with actual likeable characters and a reason for existing).

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?
If it's your sort of thing, yes.

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
Probably a buy-er, but maybe not on the day of release if that makes sense.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
With the best will in the world, I don't think so.

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: This film's got Saoirse Ronan in it, who was in Atonement along with Keira 'Sabé' Knightley, Harriet 'Kalonia' Walter and Daniel 'Tivik' Mays.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 ...I won't mention the Ed She*ran video if you don't, okay? [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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