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Lady Bird


Any number of coming-of-age films are brought to mind by actor Greta Gerwig’s charming debut as solo writer/director.

But the delightful and insightful Lady Bird achieves flight in its own unique way, just like the aerodynamically unorthodox ladybug the title tips to. You know, the bug that’s not supposed to be able to fly but does anyway?

People doubted Gerwig’s filmmaking ambitions, since she’s best known as the loveably daffy star of such modern amusements as Frances Ha and Mistress America. She went ahead anyway and made one of the funniest and most heartfelt movies of 2017, a film that really gets inside the outsider feeling of growing up.

It’s no accident at all that Saoirse Ronan’s title rebel in Lady Bird, a Gerwig-inspired character Ronan makes her own, chooses Stephen Sondheim’s “Everybody Says Don’t” as her cheeky audition for a high school musical.

At 17 going on 18, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson feels under siege, not just from her randomly dyed red hair, her stubborn adolescent acne and her misfortune of living with her cash-strapped family in Dullsville, a.k.a. Sacramento, Calif., in 2002.

Her frazzled mom (Laurie Metcalf), annoying older brother (Jordan Rodrigues) and inquiring school principal (Lois Smith) are all on her case. Only her dad (Tracy Letts) seems to be on Lady Bird’s side — and he’s fighting a bad case of depression, humbled by an economic downturn that has left him unemployed and embarrassed by his perceived failings as a breadwinner. Mom has to work double shifts as psych ward nurse.

Lady Bird also has the pesky problems of an affordable college to choose and virginity she’s eager to lose, the latter with the assistance of her shy boyfriend Danny (Lucas Hedges) — or is she really more interested in the inscrutable slacker Kyle (Timothée Chalamet)?

Ronan is a riot as the wilful Lady Bird, her most lived-in role yet, as a kid trying hard to turn “nope” into hope. She’s sure to court Best Actress consideration, one of many potential kudos for this 2017 screen highlight.

Picture, directing and screenwriting honours beckon for Gerwig, and possibly supporting-actress nominations for Metcalf and Smith, the two mother figures in Lady Bird’s life, who always mean well even if they don’t always deliver on it.

There’s much hidden love, too, in how Gerwig’s keen eye manages to make her hometown Sacramento look good, better than Lady Bird would ever admit. One perfectly just-so scene places the teen inside a colourful wall mural, like a distaff Where’s Waldo? You never know what you’ll find when you embrace “do” instead of “don’t.”

Courtesy: Peter Howell, Toronto Star


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Directed by: 
Greta Gerwig
Running Time: 
94 minutes
Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Timothée Chalamet, Lucas Hedges
Screenplay by: 
Greta Gerwig

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