Leave the cannoli, take the movies

Review Blog

Lady Bird

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on November 13, 2017 at 5:05 PM

LADY BIRD   ***1/2

Greta Gerwig


IDEA:  Lady Bird, a restless high school senior, tries to realize her desire to leave Sacramento and her contentious mother for the east coast.

BLURB:  Through the lens of memoir, Greta Gerwig has taken many of the most timeworn ingredients of the high school coming-of-age film and pressed them into something invigorating and self-effacingly unique. What is perhaps most remarkable about Lady Bird, on top of its rare female perspective and exceptional narrative and formal economy, is how Gerwig inflects so many of her fine-tuned beats with a palpable specificity: to place, to politics, to family life, to language. The film thrums with the fond wistfulness of a reminiscence animated by keenly remembered details on a local scale. Each fragment in its nimble structure is a delicately constructed capsule that registers, despite the inevitable comic exaggeration, as lived experience, shaped by the particular sociality of a milieu ingrained in the characters’ day-to-day existences. While Lady Bird chafes against and antagonizes the conditions of her upbringing, Gerwig astutely shows how they are formative to her all the same, elements constitutive of a perceptive creative identity the film itself exemplifies. Her casually acerbic, beguilingly sidewise sensibility always seems to obviate the possibility of triteness; her scenes don’t so much revolve around dramatic incident as behavioral quiddities, and she mingles flippancy and sincerity with such deftness that her sentiments are hardly able to default to the banalities one might expect from the material. Nick Houy’s snappy editing and a beautifully synched ensemble accommodate this offbeat design with ease. They fill out a portrait of self-actualization and ambivalence that is warm, pithy, and as fully-formed as Lady Bird herself might one day be.

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