Sunday, November 19, 2017

lady bird [2017]

i want to watch this movie again, and again, and again, and again.  right off the bat, this is a miracle of a film.  it might be the best coming-of-age movie in a long time.  sacramento native, greta gerwig, wrote and directed a love letter to her natal city, and crafted the most loving story of the relationship between mother and daughter.  the people are real, gritty, flawed, sweet, petty, and large hearted as the people we know.

saoirse ronan plays christine 'lady bird' mcpherson a senior at a catholic high school who is developing in to the person she is meant to be.  her mother, marion, played by laurie metcalf, is a psychiatric nurse who must work extra shifts at the hospital because her husband, lady bird's father, larry, played by tracy letts, was laid off his job as an engineer.  lady bird is not her given name.  it is an invention by lady bird herself, a gift to the creation of identity.

the year is 2002-2003.  lady bird's parents are struggling financially, but they are not poor.  lady bird is cut from the same cloth as her mother, marion, both are strong, independent, intelligent women.  these qualities lead to frequent fights and misunderstandings.  and yet, there is a tenderness under the surface tension.  larry is a sweet natured man who is quietly shouldering his own burdens.

and yet and yet, the delight filmmaker gerwig provides to her characters never leaves the screen.  good god, this movie is beautifully written, expertly directed, wonderfully photographed and awesomely edited.  lady bird and marion suffer loss and heartache, but no one, i mean, no one, beginning with lady bird's first boyfriend and love, to the hip kids she later hangs out with, are made the enemy.  indeed, there is a scene, after a betrayal, between lady bird and her first love, that is so sweet and so beautiful that i choke up just thinking about it as i type.

i can go on and on about the beauty of this movie and the reality of its conceits and characters.  i know, you know, these people.  lady bird and marion are people you know in your own lives.  and what can i say about greta gerwig's treatment of my own beloved hometown.  for she made a love letter to sacramento.  the thrust of most of this flick is centered in my own backyard.  i was wondering how the hell could i have missed the film crew as it shot many scenes where i live.  i mean, really, the neighborhood where i live is prominent in this film.  i didn't see any film crews during production of this movie even tho they shot prominently my neighborhood, such as the rose garden in mckinley park, where lady bird falls in love, is just two blocks from where i am sitting right now.  hell, gerwig and co. even put my family's favorite dive burger stand, cookie's, located on h street, in this flick.  i was agog by what i saw onscreen.  because, yes, there has been several movies and TV shows that are supposed to be sacramento, but gerwig's movie is the first one i've seen that makes sacramento a central character, and photograph the city as a real place.

you might wonder if my love for my city blinds me to the flaws of this flick.  i give an emphatic no.  this is a perfect movie.  i say that soberly, and matter-of-fact-ly.  i didn't want this movie to end.  i wanted to stay in the company of lady bird, marion, larry, the rest of her family, and friends for hours and hours.  but even the ending of this movie is precise, hits just the right note.  this movie is perfectly cast, beautifully acted, gorgeously shot and edited, and superbly written and directed. this is the first movie written and directed by greta gerwig.  i think we have a major talent in our midst.  i can't wait to see her next film.

see this movie.  i beseech you.  witness the flawed beauty of its characters, and of my beloved city.  i don't know how else to end this review.  this is a movie that has you fall in love, with life, again.


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