Written and directed by Greta Gerwig, and starring Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird is a coming of age story about a young girl who is artistically inclined, but lacks support from her emotionally crippled and emotionally crippling mother.
Not only have I known families that have suffered through worse hardships than these, I’ve gone through much worse. You gotta give me something more than “daddy lost his job,” even if he is the sole bread winner. It never came to a point in the movie where the family was on the brink of disaster, like losing the house, or daddy developed some sort of depression or a substance abuse problem behind his woes… I just wanted something more substantive to happen. As it is presented, Lady Bird depicts standard 1st world problems.
The fact that it takes place in Sacramento doesn’t help. It seemed to remove the circumstances even further from me, as I grew up in New York. I am not saying that I can only relate to movies that take place in New York, but Sacramento was like another character in this film because there was so much of it shown. You can tell Gerwig is from Sacramento and very sentimental about it, but this device of making the town another character can be tricky. Sometimes it works, like in Manchester by the Sea, and sometimes it does not as in 20th Century Women. And it’s funny Lady Bird brought 20th Century Women to mind because a) Gerwig was in 20th Century Women and b) I didn’t care for that movie either. I found it unrelatable as it dealt with subject matter that has nothing to do with my life aside from the fact that we are all women. (By the by, here’s my review of 20th Century Women, if you don’t believe how much I disliked it.)
That being said, the toxic mother/daughter relationship was painful to watch at times. I was my mother’s 7th child, so by the time I came along all the rules were out the window and she just pretty much left me to my own devices. Thankfully, I was a semi-smart kid, capable of figuring things out on my own, for the most part; but when I had my own daughter I figured out how to improve on my mother’s model. I have never heard anyone’s mother speak to their child the way Lady Bird’s mother speaks to her. I have literally heard mothers curse their children out (not without good reason, mind you; all out of love and in the name of protection and survival), and it still didn’t come across as particularly abusive and mean-spirited. I’ll chalk that up to cultural differences, I guess.
Laurie Metcalf is outstanding in this role of this terribly unsupportive, insensitive, mean, confidence-deflating, bullying mother, and she cries at one point, but we never get to see any changes in who she is, nor do we get to see the relationship between her and her daughter evolve. Their relationship is just a sad soup of dysfunction that is interrupted by Lady Bird going off to college. Lady Bird is just a typical teen figuring out who she is and trying to achieve autonomy. She did have to overcome her domineering mother to succeed, but even that just wasn’t enough to keep me invested in these characters or this story.
Lady Bird earned 5 out of 10 bloops. I just really could not relate to the characters or the story. Metcalf was a far more interesting character than Lady Bird. I’m happy Gerwig got her film made and it is mostly well received. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. Everything is not for everybody and this movie was not for me.
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1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
What I’m seeing/reviewing next…
A Wrinkle In Time – I’ve not read the book and was debating whether to do so before seeing the movie. I’m going to pass and see if this movie is good enough to make me want to read the book. I read Girl on the Train before seeing the movie and it totally ruined for me. Yes. I know. The book is usually better than the movie, but I want my mind to be clear to critique the movie on its own merits, not how closely it followed the book, or picking over what was added or left out. So that’s how I’m going to play it. I didn’t get to see it in previews, so that will be up Friday.
The Florida Project
Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World
The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist
Call Me By Your Name
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
The Big Sick
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Kong: Skull Island
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
I Am Not Your Negro