Lady Bird

Year: 2017
Production Co: Scott Rudin Productions
Director: Greta Gerwig
Producer: Scott Rudin
Writer: Greta Gerwig
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet

I wasn't the least interested in Lady Bird when I first heard about it. Not only do I not respond at all to most movies from the kids' point of view when it's about the generation gap between them and their parents, it looked like the same coming of age/finding yourself tale I've been watching since I was a teenager myself.

When it rode success all the way to the Oscars, I got more intrigued. Whatever secret sauce writer/director Greta Gerwig (seeming to be in full autobiography mode) wrangled, it must have been something very special and different to be up for Best Picture.

No such luck. When I wasn't bored at the 'kid wants to be rebellious' cliches I was irritated at what an entitled, self-absorbed little shit Lady Bird/Christine (Saoirse Ronan) was.

She's grown up in Sacramento like Gerwig did, and (presumably also like Gerwig) longs to study amid the more refined culture at the US east coast colleges where literature and art are more appreciated than in the cookie cutter suburban California of her youth.

Problem is Lady Bird (she gives herself the idiotic name seemingly as part of her rebellion) isn't doing well enough at school to make it on a scholarship, and her financially strugging parents (Laurie Metcalfe and Tracy Letts) can't afford to send her to any of the schools she thinks befit her talents.

The plot itself depicts her adventures going to a restrictive Catholic school with her best friend, falling for a clean cut boy who has a dark secret, falling for a too-cool emo kid any parent would have figured out from a mile away and trying to be the artist she believes herself to be in the school production.

There are a few weird asides like her drama teacher priest who seems to have depression (but which is never mentioned again) that made me wonder how much padding Gerwig had left in the script, but I might just be seeing more errant loose ends than there was because I was so irritated by the main story.

To be fair to the script, Lady Bird's parents are treated with sympathy instead of being depicted as tyrants who just want to make their daughter's life miserable. The conflict is more because she's railing against her upbringing than them as people. Her outspoken mother just wants her to be realistic and a bit appreciative, and her poor Dad is the meat in the sandwich.

But Lady Bird herself is just another entitled brat in a movie you've seen a hundred times that has nothing special visually or narratively to recommend it. The older I get and the more of these I see, the more I like the idea of a few years of compulsory military service for teenagers. I just wanted to slap her.

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