Yesterday the winners of a Telluride Film Festival Indiewire critics poll were announced, and the news was very good for Greta Gerwig‘s Lady Bird. Tied for first place were Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical dramedy and Guillermo del Toro‘s The Shape of Water, and the most admired performance “by a long shot” was given by Lady Bird star Saoirse Ronan. So we know where the Best Picture conversation is headed right now, at least in part.
And yet, believe it or not, there’s a fierce pushback narrative being mounted against Lady Bird by a certain nitpick contingent. It’s mainly about how they don’t care for Ronan’s lead character, whom director-writer Gerwig largely based upon her own teenaged self back in ’02. Not likable enough, they’re saying. Too bratty, too argumentative with her mom (Laurie Metcalf), disloyal to her fat best friend, too much of a social striver, etc.
I find this argument appalling as I believe Lady Bird to be an excitingly honest and beautifully assembled film that tells the often humorous, sometimes abrasive truth about what it’s like to be a bright, passionate 18 year-old with unformed ideas and serious hunger. But you can’t order people to ditch their objections.
I was arguing with one of the nitpickers this morning. I reminded that Ronan’s character goes back to her best friend at the very end, and that kids say and do unattractive things to each other all the time in high school, and that mothers and daughters are often if not always at loggerheads during the teen years, and that Ronan says “I love you” to her mom at the finale. It’s honest, it’s real, it’s Greta’s life…c’mon. Some people are just dug in and unreachable.