Film Analysis by an Anarchist: Lady Bird (2017)

Originally published by me on Subversion News. All photographs are fair use and are from the film in question.

Spoiler Warning: this review contains several spoilers so please watch the movie first if that is a concern.

Lady Bird is an emotionally intense film to say the least. The film stars Saoirse Ronan as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a 17 year old senior at a Catholic school in Sacramento, California. She is an adventurous, and ambitious, yet equally flawed person. She has a difficult relationship with her mother, and a better one with her father. Her mother has far too high standards for her, yet never recognizes Lady Bird when she accomplishes something. Her father on the other hand has depression and doesn’t tell her, but out of the fact that he doesn’t want to upset her. The film is excellent in every way, and every character shines brilliantly and is well developed, but this analysis will not focus on Lady Bird.

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson as played by Saoirse Ronan

The film is set in the year 2002, right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and right before the Iraq War, and this is a major undertone of the film. During the course of the movie Lady Bird is in two romantic relationships, the first of which is a boy she meets in a drama calls, who she falls in love with deeply. His name is Danny O’Niell (played by Lucas Hedges) and the two share numerous romantic moments together, even kissing. They both confess their love for each other while sitting under the stars. Later, she finds out he is gay as she walks into the men’s restroom, and see’s him kissing another boy. She is angry at first and doesn’t want to talk to him, avoiding him for a period of time. He comes to her and she reveals she knows that he is gay, and he breaks out crying, not knowing how to tell his Catholic parents about his sexuality and wanting her to accept him and not spread rumors about him. She accepts his apology and promises not to tell anyone as they hug while he cries. This is most of what we see of the character of Danny, aside from later on when when we see him singing in a musical.

A photograph of a US soldier during the Afghanistan war

The next boy she dates is named Kyle, and he is a young musician and an anarchist who is reading the book People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn in the scene in which she meets him face to face. He smokes hand rolled cigarettes, is against cell phones due to his knowledge of the US government spy network that employs cell phones to spy on communications around the world, and mentions how he hates money. Not the most developed leftist character, but then again, this is more than we usually get from Hollywood.

Kyle Scheible as played by Timothée Chalamet

Kyle and Lady Bird break up after she thinks he is a virgin, and has sex with him, only to find out that he is not. She gets angry at him and he mentions how people are being killed in war and she is angry over something so meaningless and remarks on how she doesn’t have to be angry about this. She asks if they are still going to go to prom together and he says sure. They don”t date after this, but remain friends somewhat.

Overall the movie has a somewhat dark tone for a something billed as a dramatic comedy. It has its funny moments, but surprisingly it has far more moments where the viewer is likely to cry. I would give Lady Bird a 10/10 perfect review, and rank it as my favorite movie of 2017.

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