Saturday, February 17, 2018

Film Review - Lady Bird (2018)

Lady Bird marks the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig and stars Saiorise Ronan as Lady Bird a young teenager going through high school in Sacramento California and wanting to do something more with her life unlike her mother (Laurie Metcalf) who she constantly fights with all the time but while mothers and daughters may fight as a way of showing how much they care about each other down deep Lady Bird stills tries to find her place in the world even if it means flying away from the nest.

I absolutely adored this movie and was very touched by it when I began to think about it some more coming out of my session because I was that age myself back then in 2002-2003 which is where I will begin though my time in that period was very different to Lady Bird’s the same angsts, desires and feelings are there regardless of gender and Ms Gerwig firstly with her script captures all of that wonderfully the way that people talk here through her dialogue it all sounds very real it doesn’t sound the scriptwriter having their characters talk as they would or saying things that feel insincere or false or untrue to how people talk in this life there’s a genuine sincerity to this story here and it is very welcome indeed.

Secondly Ms Gerwig’s direction is wonderful she doesn’t let her scenes run on too long so her performers can improvise or adlib to try and get a cheap laugh or force some humour in there where it isn’t needed she knows exactly how to time the scenes, direct her actors and when to cut to the next scene so the overall film doesn’t run on too long and to think that this is her directorial debut it has the confidence of someone who has been directing for a decade up to this point I very very much admire her work here and I hope she is making movies for a very long time to come because I will see all of them.

Secondly the central performance by Ms Ronan is simply fantastic every scene she’s in has you glued to the screen watching her she’s that good but she has been very good for a long time and hardly anyone has noticed but here you can’t take your eyes off her and it is fitting to see her nominated for an Academy Award for her work here but she isn’t along in doing good work Tim Chalamet from Call Me By Your Name is very good as the James Dean esque Bad Boy that Lady Bird falls for Ms Metcalf is good here, Lucas Hedges is very good as Danny hell its hard to think of a bad performance in this movie everyone here puts their trust in Ms Gerwig and they repay it ten fold.

But there is one last point I want to make and that is this movie along with last year’s criminally underseen The Edge of 17 written and directed by Kelly Craig beautifully capture what it means to be a young person going through adolescence and puberty a huge change in your life that signifies growing up towards being an adult and through that trying to find who you are as a person both inside and out and yet both films do it with a sincerity and a sense of intimacy that is very hard to find with male filmmakers.

There is a tendency in male oriented teen films especially recently to treat that kind of physical and emotional intimacy in a way that can feel very exploitative where the female characters are seen as more sexualized than is normally the case or where the emotional core where a male character might feel something for a young girl at that age but be unsure what to do about it can be easily sacrificed for either a cheap gag or a cynical laugh where that person is made to feel like their soft and weak for feeling that way like “They shouldn’t be seen as being like that, you should just want to fuck them and leave them” and for me it just pulls me out of the film and it distracts from the emotional core that is trying to play out.

That wasn’t the case in Edge of 17 and it isn’t the case here the emotional core is intact and is handled with great care and if there are laughs to be had they are done in a way that makes sense within the context of that particular scene all of that stuff feels real because their directors and actors believe in it 115% and as a result you as an audience member believe in the characters and their emotions and desires and it makes you feel something inside of how it really felt to be that age and feel like how others can handle these huge changes with ease while you yourself can’t seem to do anything right at all and if you do care about someone it hurts when it goes bad and it feels wonderful when it goes right.

And lastly with these 2 films and Wonder Woman also from last year it is great to see female filmmakers challenge the guys at genres they’ve traditionally dominated in and prove that they can do it as well and have the guys love their work as much as women do even if they don’t quite understand how much it means to the female audience to see themselves represented in this way on that big cinema screen but that’s okay because I personally am happy for them as it can be a very powerful feeling.

And so that was my review of Lady Bird a film I loved and I hope people will go and see in cinemas, 4 and a half out of 5.

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