Tuesday, November 28, 2017

It's like coming home...


On the soul of Greta Gerwig's crowd-pleasing "Lady Bird"

It's hard to say what possessed 17-year-old Christine McPherson of Sacramento, California, circa 2002, to change her name to "Lady Bird."

There’s something about the name you’ve been given just as there is no place like home.

I was 17-years-old in the year 2002 and living in Clinton, TN, and the only Lady Bird I ever heard of had the last name Johnson. She was the First Lady for a while. She was from Texas.

Oh, and also from Texas was “King of the Hill” Hank Hill’s dog named Lady Bird. She was named after the First Lady Lady Bird though most likely.

No matter what the connection or lack thereof, “Lady Bird” (in quotes) is certainly the name of one of this year-for-awful-people’s absolute BEST people, a movie character, a classic artsy high school senior at it always with her mother (Laurie Metcalf), herself always at it with the lack of money and her husband’s (Tracy Letts) unemployment, a girl dating her life choices—the theater boy (Lucas Hedges) and the school musical, the rich guy in the band (Timothée Chalamet) and the coffee shop, trying on best friends (Beanie Feldstein and Odeya Rush)—a girl I knew and you knew, another in a duo of career-defining performances from the Irish actress Saoirse Ronan…

….And the new film, the directorial debut of the actress Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird” is now the best reviewed movie of all time, surpassing “Toy Story 2,” a fact documented by the movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes on Monday.

I like it better than “Toy Story 2” too.

It's hard to say why this movie is so good, at least without baring your own soul in the process. (I can’t fathom trying to put into words how I connect with this movie, even as simply as how it relates to being 17 in 2002.)

This is a movie about the soul, the old one and the young one and how they’re not so different. “It’s like coming home”…would be its most fitting cliché, and who doesn’t love that one?

It continues in a trend(?), following last year’s “Edge of Seventeen,” of female-centric “teen movies,” dealing mostly in that realization that your home is special, your friends are special, your parents are special, your hang ups are special, and your beliefs, religious or otherwise, set up your resolve and lead you to your truth.

Here is what I know to be true:

1. “Lady Bird” is a movie grounded in place and time like only the best visions of memory can be. It is loved because it loves. It’s just one of those movies.

2. Greta Gerwig is amazing behind the camera. I sensed her presence all over this movie and learned things about why I love her as a writer and actress in the process. And her feel for time and place are perfect, from the rapid rhythms of change from one scene or one love interest or one friend to another in such a finite amount of time as a senior year to the feeling of a particular song that plays on the radio too much but, in hearing it with the company of love under a shroud of pain, it enters your soul forever. Little things like that are huge in this film.

3. Saoirse Ronan is amazing at channeling Gerwig’s teen persona. I believe she is “Lady Bird.” She would be called “Lady Bird.” Ronan is as perfect as, if not the perfect opposite of, her 1950s teen immigrant in “Brooklyn” a couple years back. And I love her.

4. Beanie Feldstein, as the best friend Julie, is amazing at being a best friend. I have best friends that good. I love her more here.

5. Lois Smith is amazing at portraying empathy and understanding in every frame she enters. The conversations Lady Bird has with her nun character are priceless.

6. Laurie Metcalf is amazing...simply that. She is a national treasure.

I’d talk about how sweet Tracy Letts’ work here as the supportive father is, how charming (and true), in their own ways, Timothée Chalamet and Lucas Hedges are.

But this is a work of true girl power!

And, in a year where women in the spotlight are taking back what’s theirs, it’s just the movie we all need right now.
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A+/Five Stars—It’s a great movie for all people. It’s an even greater movie for people who went to high school in the early 2000s. It’s a potential game-changer for all high school students anytime, just advise on the R-rating, mostly for language. Please, go see this, all of you.

Playing locally at Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 Turkey Creek and Regal Downtown West 8.

4 comments:

  1. Great review! You liked this one more than I did, but I can admit that I love seeing Greta Gerwig behind the camera. The ensemble cast did an amazing job as well, especially Ronan.

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  2. Great review, man.

    I completely agree with you, & it’s definitely my favorite film of the year. The performances are absolutely perfect (especially Ronan, Metcalf, Letts & Feldstein), the direction & screenplay from Greta Gerwig are both top-notch, the cinematography is great, the editing is great, & the score is excellent.

    This has just become my new all-time favorite film. It’s absolutely flawless. I’ve seen this film twice & sobbed tears of joy both times. As a 16-year-old, I could relate to Lady Bird & the relationships she has with everyone. All of those things made me so emotional, & I’ve never had a stronger emotional connection to a film before. I’ll probably see this film more times while I’m in theaters. I still can’t find the perfect words to say about this film. And I don’t think I ever will.

    (Also, Saoirse Ronan is perfect & gorgeous & amazing & we must appreciate her forever! Sorry… I just had a bit of a fangirl moment about Saoirse Ronan. I bet you’ll understand, though).

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  3. <3

    You hit the nail on the head with this one, man. So much truth here. I somehow didn't know going in that it took place in the 2002-2003 school year, and when I saw that, I gasped. This was the year that I was a freshman in college... one year after I was a Senior in high school and knew that I just had to get out of my CT suburb, but was also a bit scared of going far away for college. DAMN if this beautiful film didn't bring all those feelings and memories rushing right back. The warmth Gerwig has for every single character is palpable, and every last one of the actors is on fire (what Stephen McKinley Henderson does with, what, two scenes(?) is INCREDIBLE). I'm not surprised it's 100% fresh at all. What's not to love about this movie?

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  4. Great review! Can't wait to see this!

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