Overall, I think that Lady Bird is a well written, well directed, and well acted film. It is a classic coming of age tale that centers on genuine emotions and depicts complex characters. An interesting aspect of this film is that it seems to be oriented very heavily around emotional objectives as opposed to concrete plot points that drive the narrative. This applies not only to the film, but also to the character, Lady Bird (Christine McPherson). The movie could have simply ended with her plane ride to New York, as that would be achieving the main plot point of the film. However, Lady Bird needs to resolve her emotions before her journey can come to end. Lady Bird also does a very good job of avoiding the the cliche trap of cheap sentimentality that many writers tend to fall into. The emotional experiences in the film feel as if they have an emotional weight to them that is relevant to Lady Bird at the time that she experiences them, and not a weight that would be significant to her twenty years later as she reminisces on her high school days. Nothing happens in the film that really feels like a pivotal turning point in Lady Bird’s life. The movie doesn’t want us to focus on any one particular event as if completely defines Lady Bird. Anytime that it appears that a moment like this might be developing, the movie changes in a completely different direction. Moments like this do shape Lady Bird, but nothing more. As the story moves forward, naturally, the plot progresses. However, the movie is constructed in such a way that it makes the audience focus on what Ladybird is experiencing in the moment, rather than having her feelings swept under the rug and simply used as a catalyst for a larger narrative context. The film is meant to make us understand how the main character perceives her own life as it takes place. An example of all of this is when Lady Bird jumps out of her mother’s moving car at the start of the film. As a result of this, she breaks her arm. This could have easily been a major plot point that gets constantly revisited? it represents the relationship between her and her mother. Nonetheless, the film doesn’t elevate this experience; instead, it movies on. Lady Bird’s problematic relationship with her mother persists even after the cast is removed. Similarly, Lady Bird is affected when she finds out that sex isn’t as special as she had hoped it would be, or when she finds out that her boyfriend is gay? but the movie doesn’t over-dramatize or focus in on these moments. Lady Bird doesn’t force us to witness all of the main character’s inner turmoil. Many similar movies have focused on the main character’s obsession over these types of events. They would have dialed in on how to to win back the love interest, they would have tried to look for meaning, they would have processed and over-analyzed the scenario into oblivion. Lady Bird doesn’t fixate on these events. That isn’t to say that she doesn’t process through them. Just as the audience is led to believe that a certain moment is going to be “the moment”, the film steers away from them, but then circles back to them. For example, the movie makes us aware of the fact that Lady Bird hasn’t forgotten about Danny when we least expect it, but, again, it never becomes a central focus? it doesn’t define Lady Bird as a whole. Lady Bird never once makes any one plot point totally fundamental to her development as a character, yet the movie is still a complex amalgamation of emotions and motivations. One might argue that Lady Bird’s relationship with her mother is the crux of the film. Yes, obviously this is very important, but it isn’t “the point” of the film. She has relationships and experiences independent of her mother. Even the act of Lady Bird leaving Sacramento is just a stepping stone rather than a destination. Emotionally, she hasn’t really arrived anywhere, she has simply contextualized her past better. Lady Bird’s drive at the end of the movie depicts how she is beginning to understand what she unknowingly loved about Sacramento, yet is also emphasizes that she still has much to experience. The movie ends just as it started, with a drive. But this time, Lady Bird is the one behind the wheel. This represents the fact the she has not completely abandoned her past and has also grown as a person.Lady Bird is very different from the typical coming of age movie. It revolves around experiences and emotions, not plot. It contains a refusal to define characters solely by two or three events, thus steering it away from common cliches. The characters don’t become fixed by a certain incident. Lady Bird avoids stereotyping its characters as “the slut”, “the jock”, “the mean girl”, etc. This makes the side characters feel much more fleshed out and believable, rather than simply one-dimensional carbon copies of archetypes that have been reused to hell and back.An example of this is seen in Jenna Walton. Jenna is depicted as the most popular girl in school, and one would expect her to tick off all the attributes surrounding this cliche, and for a while she does just that. However, an interesting interaction occurs when Jenna finds out that Lady Bird lied about her address out of shame. She doesn’t make fun of Lady Bird, she doesn’t try to start drama, and she doesn’t look down on her or try to get revenge. Instead, she tells Lady Bird that she doesn’t understand why she would lie, and is hurt by that fact that she lied to her. In the end, it simply puts a strain on their friendship. None of the character’s seemed eccentric because of their quirks, instead they felt very real. It seemed as if even Lady Bird herself wanted to be eccentric, but in reality she was just an average person. She, along with all of the other characters, were presented as very real and fleshed-out characters. To sum it up, Lady Bird feels very real. Everything feels natural and dense, nothing feels contrived. Things are brought up but not necessarily explored, and the events of the film very tightly packed and textured. This film is funny and endearing, and does a good job of making us sympathize with Lady Bird, even if she wasn’t always the most rational character.
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