R-rated, mainly because teenagers curse like sailors and love being contrarian. There are scenes where Lady Bird acts like a turd and is wildly offensive, but the film overall kind of has a good message, I guess? If I have to make a concession, the movie isn't as offensive as it could be, but it does hit a few anti-Catholic buttons in the name of showing what the Catholic school experience is like.
DIRECTOR: Greta Gerwig
100%, Rotten Tomatoes? Really? I know that you are an aggregate site and really all you are doing is measuring a binary good-to-bad ratio without a sliding scale, but 100%? Someone didn't say, "Nah, this wasn't my cup of tea?" I can't even jump on the bad scale because the movie is pretty good. But I'm going to be the big shocker that no one wants to listen to. It was only pretty good. It was not change-my-life, end-of-the-world good. People need to stop using hyperbole and critics need to start thinking like audience members. This recent shift from critics to audience has gotten bigger and movies like Lady Bird are part of the problem
This has to be Greta Gerwig's semi-autobiographical film, right? This movie feels personal as heck and there are scenes in there that just read like things that she probably did when she was in high school. The movie goes out of its way (that line in the first few minutes of the movie establishing the year...c'mon.) to establish that it is 2002. The only reason that the movie had to be in 2002 is A) they wanted to use "Crash Into Me" unironically and B) it was probably the actual year that Gerwig went to high school. That makes her a year younger than me and I should be able to relate to this movie more than my students. Admittedly, I'm not not a high school Catholic school senior girl, but I may as well be. I can totally love on the nostalgia that this film has. I'm finally getting to an age where movies that are nostalgic are about my youth. That's weird. We're finally past all of the eighties flashback movies and we kind of just skipped over the nineties to arrive at 2002, but let's be honest. A '90s movie would be kind of meh. (Sorry, Everybody Gets Some...I have yet to see you. You are on my Netflix DVD queue.) As a tale of the early 2000s (or early "aughts", because I know you people), I don't think it is entrenched in the nostalgia like many movies of its kind are. That's what kind of makes me question the chronological setting at all. It almost screams like Gerwig is saying "This is me! Know me!" That's fine. It's just that I don't really like Lady Bird as a person.
Yeah, I know. I'm the worst. I told my students that I didn't really like her and I think I full on made some people hate me. "I related so much." I'm sorry, but Lady Bird reminds of people I know and those people are absolutely terrible human beings. What's odd is that I normally love my protagonists flawed. Lady Bird learns lessons throughout the films and I want to give those lessons a warm hug because it needed to be said in film, but I also feel like Lady Bird's changes were small and reactionary as opposed to a massive change by choice. She goes from someone I dislike to someone I dislike somewhat less. That's not the big revelatory moment I was hoping for as an audience member. The problem that I can't wrap my stupid noodle around is that it is a change that is probably truer to life. We don't often have these Scrooge moments where we make a calculated decision. Shy of reaching rock bottom and seeking help, most of our choices react to our emotional states. We learn lessons by living life and making small choices. So why can't I get past that and learn to love Lady Bird as a person? It felt a little too little and a little too late. Also, like I mentioned, I know Lady Birds in real life. Why would I want another Lady Bird in my life? (She named herself Lady Bird. That's already pretty telling.) On a completely different level, I also have to say that Saoirse Ronan didn't exactly knock it out of the park with this one. I love Saorise Ronan in other stuff. I think she's a phenomenal actress and has a nearly perfect time at bat. Lady Bird feels like a caricature. Yes, her moments scream true to life, but I always felt like Ronan was doing a voice and an impression as opposed to inhabiting the character. I've seen her in other things that are so much better and it bummed me out that this is the movie that is getting her all of the attention. I don't know if anyone agrees with me outside of my wife, but I thought everyone, with the glaring exception of Coach Director, did a better job than she did.
The reason that I actually call Lady Bird a good movie is because of every secondary character in this story. I found every other character, morally righteous or not, extremely compelling. I'm going to top heavy my review which is going to leave the rest of this review dull as sin, but Laurie Metcalf is my new favorite. She is so good in this. I wholly support her getting an Academy Award for her portrayal as the mom. This is a tough role. It is a really tough role. Metcalf never is portraying one emotion. She is a character who wants to be more easygoing. She hears how caustic her criticisms are, wants to say just one comforting thing, but is compelled to tell how she really feels in every situation. There are moments where Metcalf's eyes just betray every word she is saying and it is fascinating. I had the same feelings that Lady Bird had about her mom. I simultaneously loved and hated her and that's what Metcalf had to be going for. She is such a rich and complex character and I had no idea that she had it in her. I'm full on rooting for her because she made this movie for me. But then I have to talk about my other favorite character: Dad. Tracy Letts, who plays Dad and has apparently been in every Oscar movie ever despite the fact that I didn't recognize him, is so good. SO good. A lot of that stems from his character. Gerwig does this amazing thing with the movie and with her characters like Dad by giving them a rich backstory that never really gets focused on. Dad deals with depression in a way that is unfortunately very true. There is an emotional breaking point, but the rest of the time it is commonplace and ignored. The theme of accepted depression is handled beautifully, especially considering that it isn't the central focus of the movie. There are so many characters who deal with everyday mental illness and these characters ring so true. It is so weird that Lady Bird is the focus because her story is perhaps the most artificial in its portrayal. I'm not saying the moments aren't true. The moments are truer than true. It's just the connecting fabric that is Lady Bird herself artificially strings together these life changing moments. I think Gerwig might be a better B-line storyteller than an A-line storyteller. Also, Kyle is the worst and I applaud the portrayal of being the worst.
There's a lot more I could get into this movie. But then I start entering spoiler territory and I think I've conveyed my emotions on this film. The beats are near perfect, but the connecting tissue is what bothers me more than anything else. I don't love the intentionally offensive scenes, but what can I really do about that? The movie has heart and the movie has power, but it rubbed me the wrong way too many times.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.