Lady Bird ★★★★

"What if this is the best version?" - Lady Bird

The third and final film of the day, Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird is pretty much as good as everyone has been making it out to be. I don't consider it a masterpiece per se, but I simply cannot deny its overall quality and craft. It's a film that almost perfectly encapsulates the experience of a senior year in high school, as well as not being afraid to portray all of the tough and awkward emotions that come with that experience. My admiration for this film is through the roof.

Let's begin with performances. Man, Saoirse Ronan is a fantastic actress isn't she. Lady Bird is about as "free" as "free spirits" come. Sometimes she's just as annoying as she is sympathetic, but you know what? She's a teen. I can say first-hand that's pretty much how even the best of us come. It leads to a painfully realistic portrayal of a girl coming-of-age. Yet I think my favorite performance from the film comes from Laurie Metcalf as Lady Bird's mom. Metcalf is honestly one of the most underrated actresses I can think of, and I am so happy she is getting so much buzz for this performance. It's buzz that's well-earned. (That airport scene near the end? Holy fuck, that is peak acting.) Something that I truly admire about these performances and the other characters present is that every emotion and bit of dialogue doesn't feel superficial in the slightest. It reminded me a lot of the way theater acting is. It's deeply emotional and impactful, yet part of that impact comes from the actors actually being in front of you. For a film to pull this off is a major achievement. (When it comes to those other actors, no one really stood out to me as much as Ronan and Metcalf did. I did however really enjoy the chemistry between Lady Bird and Julie, played by Beanie Feldstein.)

I already mentioned above that I was quite fond of the grounded nature of the film's writing. Something that I also admire about it is the pacing. For a ninety-one minute film, Lady Bird gets to explore so many aspects of the senior year experience, without ever really feeling terribly rushed. I actually like that it captured the fact that high school, especially its last year, flies by like nobody's business. Just when you think it will never end, it's long gone.

I also gotta admit that Greta Gerwig has some choice music tastes. The soundtrack, while not having too drastic of an impact on the story, gets its few moments to shine. Helps that I dig the soundtrack on its own too. Matthews, Morissette, and Timberlake. That sure as hell sounds like the early 2000's to me.

If I had one particular flaw with the film, it's that there is a decision made in the film that feels way to abrupt and pretty damn cliche. I'll admit that it's something that is in way too many coming-of-age films, but I was really hoping that Lady Bird would be smart enough to avoid it. You know what it is. The stupid "I thought we were friends" dilemma. I don't think it would've bugged as much if there was better buildup, but buildup was practically non-existent. It's a very odd and jarring thing in an otherwise very smooth and very smart film. (Once the film gets over this hump, it becomes fantastic again.)

I feel like I'm saying the least about Lady Bird because I think you should really see it for yourself. Although I liked The Shape of Water a lot more than Lady Bird, my level of respect and admiration here is so large. Warts and all, Lady Bird is a truly special coming-of-age story, one that I'm sure will connect with teens and parents alike. If I had one suggestion, it'd be to bring your parent along with you for this one. If I had a second suggestion, it would be to bring some tissues for said parent.

8.5/10

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