Monday, December 11, 2017

Lady Bird

What a great film! I was thinking about trying to write something about it and love and attention and possibly Simone Weil and Iris Murdoch, but Vox has beaten me to it. (Spoiler alert: there are no Iris Murdoch references.) Here's the beginning of their review:
The French philosopher Simone Weil wrote often of attention as a kind of spiritual discipline. “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity,” she wrote in her notebooks, an idea she later would continue to develop, eventually concluding that attention “presupposes faith and love.”
In a Q&A following a festival screening of her masterful solo directorial debut Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig quoted Weil, and it’s clear from the film that this spirit of faith, love, generosity, and attention animates the whole endeavor. Lady Bird is a coming-of-age film starring the great Saoirse Ronan as Christine — or “Lady Bird,” as she’s re-christened herself — and it’s as funny, smart, and filled with yearning as its heroine. Lady Bird is an act of attention, and thus love, from Gerwig, not just toward her hometown of Sacramento but also toward girlhood, and toward the feeling of always being on the outside of wherever real life is happening.
Some films seem designed to make you fall in love with one or more of their characters, or the people who play them. Lady Bird is like that, except what you fall in love with is not Saoirse Ronan or the character she plays but growing up itself, or the tenderness of youth and family, the pain of forming as an individual and separating from your parents, and the sweetness of forming as an individual and never separating from your parents. I haven't nearly cried so many times about so many different kinds of thing at any movie I can remember.


  1. Thanks for the review! I'll check it out.

    When you say "attention" here (or I guess it's the Vox author), you seem to be referring to what I call "paying attention", to what you are listening to (music or someone speaking), what you are reading, what you are watching (movie or play), or even what you are experiencing of the world perceptually. It is indeed very important, since it's necessary and desirable to try to understand another "I"'s understanding of the world. I say "pay attention" because one's attention can wander or be distracted. Paying attention comes with some curiosity.

    1. Curiosity would be one reason to pay attention, yes. Wonder or love might be another. That is, I might attentively watch a monkey or a robot because I'm curious to see what it does next, or what it can and cannot do. But if I love someone then I might look at them attentively not because I'm interested in their curious behavior but simply because, whatever they do, I want to see it. Or I might simply want to see them, doing something or not. Like those songs about watching someone while they sleep. I wouldn't call that curiosity, exactly. And then if a volcano erupts or a whale appears whee I can see it I might watch attentively not because I love it or because I think it will do something unexpected but simply because it is fascinating, the kind of thing that makes you say 'Wow!'

      Weil has a lot more to say about attention. For instance, here:

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.