Lady Bird

Filed in Film by on January 25, 2018 0 Comments

Greta Gerwig’s quirky coming-of-age drama, Lady Bird, showcases the manifold talents of Saoirse Rowan, an Irish American actress who turned in an impressive performance in her last movie, Brooklyn, in which she played a winsome Irish immigrant adjusting to a new milieu in the United States.

In Lady Bird — which is set in Sacramento, California, around 2003 — she portrays Christine McPherson, an ambitious 17-year Catholic high school student who aspires to broaden her horizons by studying at an east coast liberal arts college. Christine, who prefers to call herself Lady Bird, has the desire, though not necessarily the grades or the financial means, to achieve her ambition.

Rowan, an actress of remarkable range, breathes life into her character, infusing Christine with spunk, vitality and courage.

This appealing, low-budget movie is not just about the promise of social mobility and advancement. It’s also about Christine’s fraught relationship with her mom (Laurie Metcalfe), Marion. Mother and daughter care for and love each other, but they usually can’t get along.

Saoirse Rowan

Christine, who claims she comes from the “wrong sides of the tracks,” upsets Marion by spending Thanksgiving with her boyfriend’s affluent relatives. They clash again when Marion complains that Christine is an ingrate. “Whatever we gave you is not enough,” she says with exasperation, prompting Christine to deliver a sarcastic response. At another point, Christine says, “I wished you liked me.” This induces Marion to say, “I want you to be the very best version of yourself.”

There are evidently two Christines — the prickly adolescent in a cash-strapped family who’s charting her own course and rebelling, and the empathetic daughter who lies in bed with Marion and accompanies her to open houses on her day off on Sunday.

Christine’s relationship with her father (Tracy Letts), a mild-mannered person who’s just lost his job and is looking for another one, is far better. He treats her with open affection and tenderness, stays clear of arguments with her, and tries to assure Christine that her mother loves her, outward appearances notwithstanding.

In many respects, Christine is like many teenagers seeking validation and companionship. She hooks up with Danny (Lucas Hedges), a pleasant young man who’s appearing in the same school play. But when she catches Danny in a compromising position in a bathroom, she quickly sours on him. She then attaches herself to another young man, Kyle (Timothy Chalamet), a musician in a rock band who initiates Christine into the wondrous world of sex. Much to her disappointment, she learns that he’s already lost his virginity.

Saoirse Rowan and Lucas Hedges

The film also deals with Christine’s iconoclastic outlook.  In a school that barely tolerates dissent on major social issues of the day, she embarrasses a teacher who’s making a case against abortion. Disputing the teacher’s claims, she makes an inappropriate remark that leaves a titter in the room and  results in her temporary suspension from school.

In her quest to leave Sacramento, Christine applies to several prestigious colleges, all of which reject her application. One college, however, places her on its waiting list, giving her reason to think she may be able to leave Sacramento and achieve her dream.

Christine’s realization that Kyle is an unsuitable partner leads her to knock on Julie’s door. Julie, her bright but overweight friend, is all alone on prom night. Christine, dressed to the nines in a frilly red dress, has no desire to go to the dance with Kyle. So she and Julie spend part of the night together, both outcasts in a manner of speaking.

Christine eventually finds her footing, proving that willpower is a key ingredient in a person’s trajectory toward satisfaction and success. Lady Bird distills her odyssey from rebellious adolescent to mature adult in fine form.

 

 

 

 

 

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