AndersonVision Best Films of 2017: #5 – LADY BIRD (A24)
LADY BIRD REVIEWED
“Lady Bird” brings together Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts in a film about the girl that won’t grow up. Well, she wants to grow up and has no road map for it. Reading through the 800 pages of EPK material that I get on Oscar bait films every Fall, it’s easy to have factoids blur together. But, one thing stood out to me from the A24 materials. Greta Gerwig wanted Lady Bird to feel like a memory. While it’s easy to try and create a female riff on Boyhood or The 400 Blows, that wistful approach seems far more special.
Saoirse Ronan might be the best young actress working today. She doesn’t get the attention give to an Emma Stone or Jennifer Lawrence. But, she approaches acting like a craft and chooses projects that matter. In working with Gerwig, she manages to bring the best of herself and the material to light. This is where detractors bring up the fact that the film feels like a series of vignettes rather than a complete narrative. Well, whose life ever feels like a complete story when you’re living it?
What makes this film stand out better than its recent contemporaries is its willingness to make the lead into an ass. You can’t help, but be an ass when you’re a kid. You think you know more than your parents, your school, etc. What you don’t realize is that they know you’ll grow past them, they just want to help you get there. Watching as the petulant lead strikes out against everyone while trying to find her way is painful, but necessary. Ronan keeps you hooked into that journey, while you suffer with Metcalf and Letts as they keep getting pushed to the sidelines. Fantastic acting all around.
- 1 hr and 34 minutes