by Patrick Brandolini
When you can see a movie that reminds you of something you’ve forgotten, it earns a special kind of appreciation from the audience. A period piece about the hazy days of American counterculture in the 1960s may remind someone of their spirit of rebellion lost to old age, seeing a character gleefully unwrapping a brand spanking new flip phone in a fit of excitement can bring back a memory from a time that seems to be feel longer and longer away each year.
It’s always great to be taken to a time or place where we can remember being happy. But when a movie can remind us of the beauty in where we are right here and now, that is truly remarkable. “Lady Bird” dares to carry the spirit of idealism to life and its relationships in a way that doesn’t claim to, or even want to, know all the answers. Its characters confront their own roles and emotions in a way that is too idealistic to be anything but fiction, but you will walk out of the theater thinking that there really is no other way to live. And this is where “Lady Bird” has triumphed in capturing the essential quality that keeps us coming back to movies time and time again; we look for movies not to disapprove of the ways that we are all wrong, but to remind us how much we want to be better.
Writer/Director Greta Gerwig may have made the most honest, raw film experience of the entire year. She has revealed herself to be within the school of contemporary writers who can convey emotions without pretentiousness, and thank God for that. How often do we watch a highly emotional scene in a film and think “I’m supposed to be feeling something right now, I know that because of the way these actors are moving about and carrying on,” and how often do we just feel? Film is the only medium of art with the power to control both attention and environment, so to make use of that is imperative to making a great film. The lights are completely off and we, the audience, have no where to look but the screen. It would seem so that any film unable to garner real emotion from an audience when given their full attention would be a rather bad film, but the scarcity of powerful films has driven us to give weak ones an undeserved suspension of our expectations of quality. But no more. “Lady Bird” has arrived, and has shows us all once again what it really means to be a great film.
The passiveness of modern moviegoers will only lead to further exploitation of them by the greedy studio system, which we all know is true because despite our exhaustion with Marvel’s diminishing quality of superhero films, we still go see them. “Lady Bird” is a very special type of movie; one so good that it forces a reexamination of what we deserve as paying audiences and what we have been willing to accept.
Turn down your next invitation to see studio garbage with friends, drive forty miles to the only arthouse theater playing that indie drama you’ve been dying to see, do whatever it takes, but it’s on us to let Hollywood know that we’re mad as hell, and we aren’t going to take it anymore. We don’t want to be sold products anymore, we want enthusiasm and we want to be excited by what we see in the cinemas. We want more “Lady Bird”.
With these reviews I’m attempting to describe the feeling I was left with during a film. If anyone wants to know the plot summary or themes of a movie, there’s IMDb for that. When I read a review, I want to know what I can expect to leave the theater feeling after the credits roll. For “Lady Bird”, expect to be thinking “finally”.