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Lady Bird Movie Review : It Is A Disguised Mother-Daughter Drama!

Lady Bird

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Lauri Metcalf

Directed by: Greta Gerwig

Rating: *** ½(3 and a half stars)

 There is a lot of,what  one would call window-dressing in a very positive way. But at  its heart Lady Bird is a pure simple heartfelt mother-daughter saga told with  a sense of whimsical wisdom that comes  only from experience.

Saoirse Ronan  plays with sturdy balance, the troublesome rebellious daughter  in the small soporific  suburban town of Sacramento (US) where nothing happens and every that happens happens for the blessed. Ronan plays Christine who likes to be known  by the ridiculous  name  of ‘Lady Bird.’ No one  objects,  not even her mother. You know you can’t argue with  a rebellious teenage daughter.Might as well give in.

Lady Bird is cinema that captures that soaring sense of surrender to the friction that separates a parent  from the child after he or she reaches a certain age. The plot relies on small portions of shock waves , like little scoops of bitter chocolate during a sparing meal,  to create loops of ongoing adventures  in Christine/Lady Bird’s  ostensibly  uninteresting life shared with her best friend Julie(BeanieFeldstein) whom Christine abandons to befriend the school snob Jenna(Odeya Rush).

Then there are  two boys in our exasperating heroine’s  life . Danny who turns  out to be, ahem, gay.And Kyle who turns out to be her first….ummm…lust.Providentially Danny and  Kyle  are played by two very fine  young actors Lucas Hedges and TimothyChalamet(the latter basking in  the  gay glory  of Call Me By Your Name).

A   lot of the hefty gleam that Lady Bird emanates  comes from the amazing  acting talent, none more so than the tried-and-tested Laurie Metcalf who as the mother brings a steely grit to what could have easily been a whining complaining working-class mother’s part.(I still cringe when I see Naomi Harris’  hysterical workingclass mother act in Moonlight).

 But I’ve seen better depictions of  a troubled  mother-daughter relationship in the  astounding series Big Little Lies where Reese Witherspoon’s exasperated anxieties towards  her  daughter seemed more more truthful.  Not that Lady Bird’s  choppy bonding with her mother is  anything less that honest. It’s  done with the kind of ferocious scrupulosity that one sees in a child painting a  mountain landscape  from memory.But it is  not compelling  in the way Great Cinema makes troublesome  child-parent relationships  look in films like Postcard From The Edge and Autumn Sonata.

 There is an abundance of memory-driven images in Lady Bird , of times that were sadly embittered when they  ought to have been happy. That showdown in the car which ends with the daughter jumping out  of the speeding vehicle, that warm hug with her first boyfriend after she knows he’s gay, that reconciliatory phone call  to the mother at the end….this is all familiar territory trodden  in this film with the smothered pride of a child wiser than her years painting a  landscape that  she  has etched from  a remote yet vivid memory.

This is a film that will annoy and charm  you. What you will carry home is the portrait of  the mother’s anguished love for a  truant daughter etched vividly on Laurie Metcalf’s face. Surely a  performance as  bright and bleeding as Frances McDormand  in  Three Billboards  Outside Ebbing  Missouri.

Lady Bird  is  not about a  bereaved  mother.  But it sure as hell portrays  the ire of  a mother who  can’t cope with her daughter’s whimsicality. See the film to see  a rather distended mirror image of  your relationship with your own  child when he or she was growing up and growing apart.

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