Skip to main content

#WelcomeToMarwen New Trailer & Character Posters

Movie Review: Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig flies home in autobiographical tale.


Review by Brandon Wolfe

Greta Gerwig spent her formative years in Sacramento and clearly she has the same love/hate relationship with the city that all of its residents inevitably grapple with at one point or another. Complaining about Sacramento is a rite of passage for Sacramentans. Not being as culturally impressive as nearby places like San Francisco, Napa and Tahoe tends to create a chip on the shoulder for those of us who call the capitol city home. When one character dismisses the place as “the Midwest of California” in Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird, it perfectly encapsulates the self-loathing that all Sacramentans often give voice to. In a state full of scenic wonders, Sacramento is unmistakably a bit basic.

Yet while Lady Bird is honest about Sacramento’s lack of pizazz, it’s also a film that is head-over-heels in love with the place. When sullen protagonist Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) hands in an essay to the nun/principal at her Catholic high school that she presumed excoriated her hometown, she is shocked to be met with the comment, “It’s clear how much you love Sacramento.” Sacramento grows on you like a fungus. You often are so convinced of its tediousness that you don’t appreciate, or even fully absorb, how much the city has clandestinely charmed you. There’s a reason why people who move away from Sacramento are often drawn back into its clutches. Christine may still be figuring this out, but Gerwig is acutely aware of it.


Christine (who insists upon being called by her self-bestowed nickname Lady Bird, though few care to take the bait) is locked into a deep bout of adolescent disaffection. It’s her senior year of high school and she longs only to get as far away from the Central Valley as possible, preferably to some Ivy League haven on the East Coast. Yet Christine’s grades are only good enough to unlock doors at select universities, and her stern, micromanaging mother (Laurie Metcalf) would prefer something within driving distance, like UC Davis (Sac State, it should be mentioned, is never given any onscreen consideration). As we follow Christine through her senior year, we watch her dabble in drama class, awkwardly commence dating and begin to navigate social circles, as when she opts to trade in her nerdy best friend (Beanie Feldman) for more popular pastures in the form of a vapid mean girl (Odeya Rush).

Gerwig cut her teeth in the mumblecore movement of the ‘00s before graduating to more polished indie fare, usually working alongside Noah Baumbach, and Lady Bird is certainly of a piece with Gerwig’s output. Yet, while this is an assured debut film as a writer-director, Lady Bird doesn’t feel as lived-in or profound as Baumbach’s Frances Ha, which starred Gerwig as another young woman trying to find her way in the world. Lady Bird bears a strong autobiographical stamp, but Christine’s journey feels frustratingly episodic, as if Gerwig were free-associating details from her own life without molding them into something richer and more complete. As Christine pings between love interests or besties, it all feels random and formless. Life often feels that way, of course, but cinema should arguably have a bit more kick to it.


The most affecting component of Lady Bird lies in Christine’s relationship with her loving yet impossible-to-please mother. Metcalf gives a terrific performance as a woman who loves her daughter deeply yet is fundamentally rubbed the wrong way by everything she does. Ronan also does a great job creating an air of teenage discontent without ever crossing over into the insufferable. The way the film navigates this fraught relationship is the one aspect that feels truly insightful.

But, as a Sacramento native, the biggest pleasure of Lady Bird is the way Gerwig puts the city front and center. This is a true showcase, and it’s a genuine joy to witness all the landmarks Gerwig captures onscreen and how many knowing references she sneaks into her characters’ mouths. Christine may still be coming to terms with how she feels about her home turf, but Gerwig’s love is unmistakable, and that pride beams from the movie with a brighter glow than anything else.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Brandon Wolfe at @BrandonTheWolfe.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Movie Review: #MissSloane

The political drama Miss Sloane fails to lobby us into Oscar territory.
Review by Matt Cummings
In a time when women were supposed to be leading our country, Miss Sloane arrives to remind us of what could have been. Unfortunately, this message about a headstrong female Washington lobbyist loses us early with an unappealing director, a paper-thin plot, and suffers from a ton of convenient realism. If the good (but not impressive) performances weren't there to buffer these and many other gaps, we might have found ourselves voting for impeachment.

For Washington lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain), life is about getting her clients what they want from the halls of Congress. Her boss Dupont (Sam Waterston) will sleep with NRA types, fudge travel records, and bully smaller firms into submission if it means a hearty paycheck at day's end. But when Sloane leaves the company to push Gun Control legislation with one of those smaller firms, Dupont turns to his bulldog Co…

Enter For A Chance To Win Passes To See WARCRAFT In Dallas

Enter for a chance to see WARCRAFT on June 7th at 7:00 PM in Dallas.

From Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures comes Warcraft, an epic adventure of world-colliding conflict based on Blizzard Entertainment's global phenomenon.


The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: Orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people and their home.

So begins a spectacular saga of power and sacrifice in which war has many faces, and everyone fights for something.


Directed by Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) and written by Charles Leavitt and Jones, the film starring Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Rob Kazinsky and Daniel Wu is a Legendary Pic…

Bethany Ashton Wolf¹s FOREVER MY GIRL ACQUIRED BY @roadsidetweets

Forever My Girl tells the story of country music super-star Liam Page (Alex Roe) who left his bride, Josie (Jessica Rothe), at the altar choosing fame and fortune instead. However, Liam never got over Josie, his one true love, nor did he ever forget his Southern roots in the small community where he was born and raised. When he unexpectedly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his high school best friend, Liam is suddenly faced with the consequences of all that he left behind.

Roadside Attractions and LD Entertainment partner for their 7th collaboration with Roadside’s domestic distribution acquisition of Bethany Ashton Wolf’s uplifting family romance Forever My Girl, it was jointly announced today by Roadside Attractions co-founders Howard Cohen & Eric d’Arbeloff, and Mickey Liddell of LD Entertainment. Forever My Girl will be released wide in theaters on October 27, 2017.

The two companies previously collaborated on numerous films including multiple Academy Award® nominee …