Lady Bird

Relationships between teenagers and their parents can often be a fascinating topic in the coming of age genre. Most of the entries within the genre can portray parents as the typical understanding archetypes who usually knows the right thing to say in the appropriate tone while the teen in question tends to either misunderstand their own problems or think they are above looking toward their future. With a lot of them displaying a lack of focus on what the parents are going through, the standard bond is either rocky tension over differences of opinions or just a simple peaceful one that only serves as an ideal support system for the good old fashioned lectures/pep talks. In the recent years, it has become more grounded and believable enough to start getting more emotional beats from those bonds (like last years Edge of Seventeen), which brings us to this new entry in the genre. The marketing for Lady Bird had trailers showing two stubborn leading ladies having difficulty seeing eye to eye with one another and the common adolescent activities such as romance, college, and sex. In addition to the positive reception, it managed to beat Toy Story 2 for the most reviewed film on Rotten Tomatoes to remain at 100%. I went into the auditorium ready to see if the critical acclaim is true and left it surprised by the pleasant crowd pleasing experience.

Plot: The story takes place in 2002-2003 in Sacramento, CA as a senior student at a Catholic high school dealing with the rocky relationship with her mother while contemplating her college aspects. The grounded realism displayed here adds more depth to the simple but effective environment our protagonist wants to move away from. One thing to note is how quickly it moves through pieces of growing up as a senior student such as a homecoming dance, classes, holidays with family, and prom, which makes sense considering how life events can flow in the blink of an eye (honestly if you doze off or leave to the restroom, the passage of time would surprise you). The conversations between the people doesn't feel like it's been Hollywood-ized over-exaggerated dialog but instead been allowed to be brutally honest about rough family situations such as financial security, depression, and confronting a question: "I know that you love me but do you like me?" While the portion of the movie looks at our protagonist dealing with academic life, when it observes the scenes between her and her mother, the quality ranges of relatable dynamics many audience members identify with to incredibly hard to watch saddening. For all of its great deeds, the story falls into one or two predictable cliches that slows down the flow of the movie (which will be mentioned on the yearly retrospective spoiler section). Overall despite Lady Bird falling into one or two cliches, it's paced very well with an appreciation for the little things in life and an exploration of a rough mother-daughter relationship.

Characters: The characters to focus on are Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) and Marion McPherson (Laurie Metcalf). Christine is our leading teenager whose stubbornness and eager attitude to leave her home city of Sacramento leads her clashing with Marion over what's best for her future. Saoirse gives a great portrayal as an awkward and abrasive young woman whose intentions can blow up in her face as she's forced to come to terms with the harsh conditions of her family life. Marion is Christine's well-intentioned and brutally honest mother who wants a good future for her daughter but their shaky bond is tested by that in the process. Laurie is another standout performer for being able to convey a both a caring consolation and a judgmentally realistic about financial problems along with future aspects for Christine. The chemistry these two actresses share shine through in any of their interactions together (the first scene they are in at the beginning sets the mood for what's to come). Honorable mentions go to Julianne "Julie" Steffans (Beanie Feldstein) and Larry McPherson (Tracy Letty) for the formers surprising empathetic charm and chemistry with Christine while the latter's warmth and optimistic nature is often welcome whenever he's on screen. Overall Lady Bird is allowed to shine the most through the great acting chops of the cast, which allows their characters more weight with their given roles and screen time.

Overall Consensus: Lady Bird is a well-balanced comedy-drama bolstered by solid performances, realistic environment, complex families issues, and adolescent cliches. ⭑⭑⭑⭑🍿🎟

Reasons to watch it: You like any of the aforementioned actors. You enjoy coming of age films. You are interested in the portrayal of complex mother-daughter relationships. You don't mind cliches in dramatic comedies. You live in Sacramento, CA and love seeing how it gets represented. You want to observe how the Catholic high school is shown. You enjoy the main focus on the love between parent and their teenager instead of one between the latter and a romantic interest.

Reasons to avoid it: You dislike any of the aforementioned actors. You are annoyed with coming of age films. You aren't interested in the portrayal of complex mother-daughter relationships. You dislike cliches in dramatic comedies. You dislike teenage leads with an arrogant attitude who eventually learns to overcome them.

Coming up next: December Delights has started out strong with the angst of growing up through adolescence of a high school senior with Lady Bird. With the most grounded entry of the month out of the way it's time to move onto something else entirely. With Star Wars The Last Jedi fast approaching in 2 weeks, next weekend will be a double movie review special to speed things up a bit. Tune in next time as Screening Spectacles will be taking a look at a fantasy romance, The Shape of Water, and a biographical comedy, The Disaster Artist, to see whether the positive critical reception about them is justified!!!

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