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Lady Bird: The Best Movie of 2017?

Danny Cummins, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to see Lady Bird with a few friends. It was a rather impromptu decision––I had no knowledge of the movie going into it other than that it was a coming-of-age movie (a genre that I’m not typically a fan of)  and that it was, at that point in time, the best-rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes— a prominent online review platform that rates movies by the percentage of critics who recommend watching it— with a perfect score of 100. That was before Lady Bird received the disapproval of Cole Smithey, a notoriously grumpy film critic, who infamously dethroned the Toy Story trilogy from its perfect 100 rating (boo). Smithey aside, it is unsurprising that Lady Bird is nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress.

“Anybody who talks about California hedonism has never spent a Christmas in Sacramento.”

So opens Gerwig’s Lady Bird, with the written words of the American journalist, novelist, and screenwriter Joan Didion scrawled on a black screen. This epigraph was chosen wisely: within ten seconds, the movie sets the tone— you know what it’s about, where it’s set, and its theme.
And then, in a masterful stroke of expository dialogue, the movie’s first spoken words reveal the titular character’s inner conflict: “Do you think I look like I’m from Sacramento?”

Christine, a high school senior who named herself “Lady Bird,” despises living in Sacramento and attending a private Catholic school. She yearns to go to college in the East, “where culture is,” she says, but her middle-class family can’t afford it. A great deal of the movie revolves around the relationships Lady Bird forms over her last year of high school; the interactions she has with her mother are brutal to say the least, but at the same time, they are engaging and poignant. The relatability of the movie is a testament to Ronan’s fantastic acting as well as that of the vast array of devilishly interesting characters with whom she interacts. Each character has a past, a present, and a future. A life beyond the camera. Because of this, the movie reverberates with passion and soul, hitting all the highs and lows of Lady Bird’s late adolescence.

Technically speaking, the movie isn’t a visual spectacle. If you’re looking for something where you can turn your brain off and enjoy the flashy lights and pretty colors, you probably won’t enjoy Lady Bird as much as Justice League or a comparable action-packed flick. Lady Bird is a movie to be felt. And––if you’re like me––you’ll come out feeling like you’ve been run through the washer and dryer.

To say the least, Lady Bird is an emotional odyssey.  It’s not too long, not too short; it’s a blast and it’s hilarious for reasons you still don’t understand; it makes you cry, makes you miss home, and makes you excited to start your life again. But after all this, you eventually feel it calling you back.

At its heart, Lady Bird is a story about home, family, and self-discovery. It’s a sharp denial of the superficial fantasy of Californian self-indulgence. But beyond these, it’s a dang good story— simple as that.

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