VIFF 2017: Lady Bird

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With razor-sharp mother-daughter dialogue and a stunning performance from Saorise Ronan as Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson, this is a sharp-witted coming of age story set in 2002 Sacramento. Lady Bird is in her final year at a Catholic high school and dreaming of college on the East Coast. She yearns to escape the “Midwest of California” and her daily battle with her mother, but she eventually realizes that home is something you appreciate much more once you leave.

Part ode to her hometown and part loving portrait of growing up in a small town in the early 2000s, writer-director Greta Gerwig crafts a nuanced tale of teenage angst. Quirky Lady Bird and her best friend, Julie (Beanie Feldstein), spend their days binging on communion crackers, signing up for the school musical, and developing crushes on students and teachers. Lady Bird’s overworked mom (Laurie Metcalf) doesn’t think she has what it takes to get in to an East Coast school and is concerned about the cost, but Lady Bird is determined to go her own way.  

There are plenty of unexpected, darkly funny scenes, such as Lady Bird jumping out of a moving car as her mom drives them home, the two of them thrift store shopping and going from bitter to giggly in seconds, and Lady Bird’s forays in and out of love. Life seems pretty stale in Lady Bird’s sleepy town, but she is an inspiring character who chases her dreams and does things her own way in spite of everyone else.    

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