LadyBird soars in new State Theatre

. December 19, 2017.

The Joan Didion quote that prefaces Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird – “Anyone who talks about California hedonism has never spent a Christmas in Sacramento” – carries a whiff of the ironic but affectionate familiarity that saturates the film. Didion’s declaration resonates with a line delivered later, by a nun at the Sacramento Catholic school attended by the film’s teenage protagonist. Christine McPherson – aka Lady Bird, played by the brilliant Saoirse Ronan – is sitting in the nun’s office discussing one of her college admission essays, when from behind her desk the wrinkled but radiant older woman compliments her on the warmth that her writing about Sacramento exudes. “It’s clear how much you love Sacramento,” says the nun. Unconvinced, Lady Bird replies, “I guess I pay attention.” The nun asks, “Don’t you think that maybe they’re the same thing?” Joan Didion, like Lady Bird, knew the city of Sacramento and apparently liked it enough to study it, to distinguish it from hackneyed ideas of the Gold Rush State. Lady Bird even disapprovingly calls Sacramento “the Midwest of California,” but by the end of the film it is clear the city’s Midwestern quality is not, in fact, a defect.

Mother-daughter relationship at heart of film

Set in the early 2000’s, Lady Bird follows McPherson in and around a Catholic high school called Immaculate Heart. Lady Bird’s mother, a harried, severe nurse, dedicates herself to tamping down Lady Bird’s penchant for drama, but her own innately dramatic personality only provokes her daughter to new extremes. One moment they are both weeping to an audio book reading of The Grapes of Wrath while driving; the next, Lady Bird is throwing herself out of the moving vehicle in response to an explosive maternal harangue from left field. Her mother insists Lady Bird keep her bedroom spotless, while Lady Bird prefers to write all over whiteboards that cover her walls. Mom wants Lady Bird to stay in California for college, whereas Lady Bird dreams about the hip, erudite world of small liberal arts schools on the East Coast.

Coming of age and into focus

The beauty and substance of Lady Bird emanate from the protagonist’s basically gentle personality, as it coalesces around her values, experiences and interests. Ironically (or not), Lady Bird herself comes to embrace a catholic [lowercase “c”] worldview: she explores contradiction, difference, ambiguity, and variety with pleasure and interest. It’s validating and exhilarating to watch her come of age as she comes into focus for herself.

Trending

The Truth About Human Trafficking: Local expert Bridgette Carr dispels common myths and offers real solutions

The phrase “human trafficking” can conjure up terrifying images of teenage girls being snatched up at the local mall— a problematic misconception about the realities of human trafficking.  Bridgette Carr, director of the University of Michigan Law Human Trafficking Clinic, explains that “buying into this type of narrative is harming those who are actual victims

MICNP Fundraiser Helps Deliver Face Shields to Nurses in Michigan

The Sharing for Shields fundraising program successfully delivered face shields to professionals at the University of Michigan and St. Joseph Mercy hospitals in Ann Arbor. The Michigan Council of Nurse Practitioners (MICNP) was able to donate over 1,100 face shields during the pandemic crisis. Face shields were received from individuals and businesses across Michigan, with

Five Zoom Party Worthy Movies: Free on Tubi

I’ve been hearing a lot about Zoom movie parties lately. People getting together on Zoom, Google Hangout, Twitch or other preferred screen-sharing services to see a movie together apart. Tubi is a free movie streaming service with very minimal commercials. In addition to supporting your local art-house theater, this is just another fun way you

Ypsilanti Art Incubator Bridging Artistic Communities

A bridge between EMU art students and established artists  Alexa Dietz understands the value of inspiration, and, with the coming relaunch of The Ypsilanti Arts Incubator, she’s building a channel for it to flow freely into a community with a wealth of creativity.  To grow and thrive  As a sculpture student at EMU in the