FILM REVIEW
LADY BIRD
Rated R
93 Minutes
Released November 3

Watching the film Lady Bird feels like sneaking a read of someone’s diary.

This heartfelt and relatable story coming of age story is more anecdotal than a deep character study.

It is a saga of the growing pains of a daughter and mother as the two ride the bumpy road toward new chapters in their lives.

It’s an easygoing portrait, told in vignettes rather than an edge-of-your-seat adventure. There are some very funny scenes, as well as incidents of emotional impasse, all of which are readily recognizable for anyone who has been in a mother-daughter relationship.

Lady Bird is as frustrated with her city as she is with her mother.

She is growing up in Sacramento, which is referenced as the “Midwest of California.”

I grew up in the actual Midwest, so I can truly sympathize with Lady Bird’s impatience regarding her surroundings.

She also feels very much from the “wrong side of the tracks” in relation to the social climbers of her high school.

Her Mom attempts to assuage any feelings of inferiority by taking Lady Bird to Open Houses in upscale neighborhoods on Sundays. However these outings seem to have the opposite effect.

The movie consists of a series of great windows on Lady Bird’s life.

In one passage a football coach has been persuaded to take over the school musical theatre production for a drama teacher who is ill, and coaches the kids the only way he knows how–it would have been even more hilarious if done with a less over-the-top rendition by Bob Stephenson.

I would have liked to see more of some of the peripheral characters such as “Kyle” and “Danny.”

Beanie Feldstein is cute and endearing as Lady Bird’s loyal best friend, “Julie.” The movie includes wonderful nuanced portrayals by Saorise Ronan in the title role and Laurie Metcalf as her Mom. Lois Smith is also wonderful as “Sister Sarah Jane.”

Tracy Letts as Lady Bird’s Dad exudes calmness and warmth on the surface, hiding depression deep underneath.

This is writer/actress Greta Gerwig’s first movie as a director. Gerwig previously starred in several independent films and won acclaim for her performances in Frances Ha, Jackie, and 20th Century Women.

She calls this movie her “love letter to Sacramento,” the city where she grew up and attended an all girls Catholic school at around the same time period that this story takes place.

In fact, Gerwig’s mother was a nurse and her father a financial consultant and computer programmer, very much the same as these characters are in the film.

Ronan seems to match a young Gerwig with uncanny accuracy.

Lady Bird is an honest and realistic portrayal of growing up, of the stress of expectations, budding sexuality, family relations, friendships, religion, school and preparing for college.

The movie also highlights the crisis of identity you can face when your world seems defined by a very specific place from which you want to escape. It’s both an exciting and frightening predicament to face.

Lady Bird does so with as much courage and grace as she can gather.

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people.

She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica.

kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com

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