Last Thursday, my parents treated me to a lavish, ‘reserved seating’ Thanksgiving meal at an exclusive country club. Between working retail jobs and at a hospital for the better part of two decades, being able to spend quality time with my family this year was a true gift… but I need to talk about the actual meal.
As soon as we walked into the ballroom, I was overwhelmed by how much food was present. The buffet-style service was a maze of damn near everything you would want: Roasted Turkey, Chicken Francaise, Stuffed Loin of Pork, Penne Bolognese, Duck A L’Orange, Prime Rib, Virginia Ham… there was even a clam bar next to the sushi bar… that was next to a fully-stocked, ‘Top Shelf’ bar!
The sights, the smells, the breathtaking view of the countryside — it was everything that had been promised, and it was like a dream come true. Being there with my parents was the reason why everything felt so damn special, and (for the first time in a long time) there was nothing but happiness in my heart. And that’s when I took my first bite of a flavorless piece of meat.
From Greta Gerwig’s script to Saoirse Ronan’s stunningly honest portrayal of a teenaged girl-on-the-cusp-of-adulthood, every component of LADY BIRD is what you would want in a well-crafted ‘Coming of Age’ film. Yes, the movie is full of tropes (I’m a little surprised Ronan didn’t wear glasses), but they are handled with care and some originality. There weren’t too many false notes in either the screenplay (save for the opening scene), or amongst any of the rather suitable performances… but I felt like I bit into an unsatisfyingly flavorless piece of meat.
[Side Note: My first encounter with Greta Gerwig was 2012’s FRANCES HA (to which LADY BIRD could serve as a spiritual prequel), and my reaction to that movie was also lukewarm — and for similar reasons. There is a terribly perfect scene where Greta runs/dances down a street in Chinatown that SHOULD BE an iconic moment — but, after only 22-minutes of relative nothingness, neither Frances or the film had done anything to earn that moment.]
In no way, shape, or form is LADY BIRD a bad movie — and, hours later, I can definitely understand why it has received an enormous amount of love from critics and moviegoers alike. For me, however, the handful of scenes that truly worked on an emotional level did so because I brought my own baggage to the movie theater. When I got teary-eyed, or found myself overthinking, it wasn’t because of the delivery of believable dialogue — it was because I started thinking of my own past, and remembering moments I wish I could take back, or alter significantly.
When the end credits started rolling, I realized I had checked the clock on my phone about six times (over the course of a 90-minute movie), and that I did not care about a single character. Some might complain about LADY BIRD’s seemingly abrupt ending, but I was entirely grateful to walk away from that experience.
Two and a Half out of Five Beers.