Actress Greta Gerwig’s directional debut in “Lady Bird” has a lot a humanities major would love: John Steinbeck, Joan Didion, August Wilson, and palindromes galore, and even Kierkegaard. That being said there is also a lot that irritates.
This reviewer is still living in the Midwest and went to Catholic schools. I get Sacramento as the Midwest of California, and I get nuns. But as a rebellion film “Lady Bird” falls short.
Our narrator is Christine, (also my name) but “Lady Bird” is her name of choice. Lady Bird has an endearing habit of correcting adult statements with, “that we know of yet.” Her youth is open to all possibilities, yet she ends up back in her hometown after giving the big city only months.
This is a coming-of-age mother-daughter film, that while winning the Golden Globe for best Comedic Picture and crediting Saoirse Ronan with Best Comedic Actress, left me wanting. The repartee is alternately cute and affrontive. When NYC seems too far for her baby to go, mom Marion says “What about terrorism ?” LB eye rolls with an imperative: “Don’t be a Republican.” It is well-timed and funny, and merrily we roll along for ninety-three minutes.
We have the eating of unconsecrated wafers on the sacristy floor, and the derisive nomenclature akin to Trump’s “Rocket Boy”. Here it takes a Catholic twist bending in with a sacrilegious “Immaculate Fart”. Adolescent, yes. Rebellious, really?
A devoted, but jobless father( Tracy Letts), an over-worked and brittle mother ( Laurie Medcalf) , a gay boy friend, and lust for the in-crowd’s acceptance all come into play as we would expect. Reading Zinn’s “ The People’s History” during Mass, a creative touch. But rebellious?
We feel for Jules, LB’s “ghosted” friend, and for the Thrift Store prom dress scene with mom. “Can’t you just say that I look nice?! , LB opines. Her alternative sassiness and angst, and consummate self-centerness makes for a perfect adolescent documentary.
Lady Bird is plucky, passionate, and funny, but the film leaves little in the way of surprises in a teen’s life. A catharsis for Gerwig, maybe, but for most “ho hum”. My daughter’s rebellion would make a better story, just saying.