Directed by: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf and Lucas Hedges
In March while you are filling out your Oscar pool ballots, be sure to take a hard look at this film. I fully expect three things to be present: Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. I will tell you right now that Laurie Metcalf will be winning Best Supporting Actress. You are welcome.
A coming of age tale about a seventeen year old girl going through her senior year of high school. She is your mostly typical teenager. She is a bit rebellious, socially awkward, insecure and confused by the world. She has an artistic interest and uses that as her escape for rebelling. Coloring her hair, pushing the limits to her school uniform codes, wearing too much jewelry and lastly; changing her name. Lady Bird is actually Christine McPherson (Saoirse ‘you wish you could pronounce my name’ Ronan). She adopted Lady Bird as her given name, a name given to herself so therefore it is her given name. Her life, like every other 17 year olds, is being ruined by her over-bearing mother. As Marion McPherson, Laurie ‘Sheldons mom’ Metcalf turns is by far the best performance of her underrated career. She doesn’t miss a chance to harp on her daughter about anything and everything. She isn’t mean or evil about it. She simply has her mind set on controlling her daughter and can’t stand her ungrateful rebelliousness. Of course, the more she pokes and prods into Lady Birds life the more Lady Bird pushes away.
The film takes place in Sacramento, CA and opens with both women in the car listening to The Grapes of Wrath on tape. With tears in their eyes as it ends Marion pushes Lady Bird to try and savor the moment longer. This instantly turns into a precursor for the rest of the film. Even the smallest comment then turns into a blowout fight in which some of the more deep and personal comments get awkwardly made. This initial fight ends by Lady Bird literally jumping out of a moving car.
The movie hits home a little extra for anyone that attended Catholic school as a kid. Without beating you over the head with blatant humor, it pokes fun at many Catholic school clichés and traditions. Some of which only Catholic school kids would recognize. I’m talking about sneaking into the sacristy and eating the unconsecrated Eucharist type of stuff.
Lady Bird goes through a standard senior year of school. She struggles with grades while her friends excel. She yearns for acceptance and attempts to find it through the theatre program. When that fails she finds a way to get accepted by the rich kids and the “in” crowd, by lying of course. She goes through a boyfriend or two and all the new experiences that they come with. She also spends her year desperately praying she gets accepted into east coast artsy colleges because it would be the absolute best way to get back at her mom.
The film is driven by the emotion of Ronan. She does a fantastic job of bringing you into each scene with her and feeling her joys, pains and confusions as she goes through this awkward final year of high school. This film becomes so relatable to so many moments with her mom, her teachers and her friends. The town of Sacramento plays a role in the film as well. As hard as Lady Bird tries to get away from this place that she claims to hate the more you can see how much it actually means to her, even if she doesn’t.
Written and first time directed by Greta Gerwig. It is easy to see she was able to speak from real life experiences as she herself was a Catholic school girl who grew up in Sacramento, CA. A problem Gerwig now has is she has set the bar pretty high for the next film she directs!
Ronan and Metcalf have a chemistry together in every single scene that rivals any other mother-daughter duo. The overwhelming spirit of the film is the relationship between these two and how it changes for each situation that Lady Bird encounters. More than a couple of bickering’s they have with each other you may think ‘Hey, I had that fight with my mom too’. It is the realness and authenticity of this relationship, along with Lady Birds multitude of experiences that truly delivers this film home.
Go and see this movie if you want to be impressed by the chemistry and acting of both Metcalf and Ronan. If you didn’t know any better you may forget that they aren’t actually Mother-Daughter in real life. Go see this movie if you weren’t a popular kid and want to re-live the awkwardness of senior year of high school. Go see this movie if you attended Catholic school. Go see this movie if you appreciate good independent filmmaking.
9 out of 10