"Lady Bird" Review
Every one of us can remember their senior year of high school. For some of us, it was great, for others it wasn’t. No matter what the quality of that year was, we all experienced adulthood for the first time and prepared for our lives to change forever. Lady Bird tells this exact story through the eyes of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson as she tries to carve her own path while also trying to navigate the pressures of her final year in high school.
Lady Bird wants to go east and get away from her hometown of Sacramento, “The Midwest of California.” She has the feeling many of us did where we just want to get as far away from home as possible. While trying to make her decision, she constantly butts heads with her tough and loving mother that thinks she would be better off staying closer to home. Along with the decision, Lady Bird also experiences the beginnings of adulthood such as relationships, sex, and alcohol.
The story is very relatable and filled with emotion. The connections between characters are stunning and give the film a very authentic feel. We witness Lady Bird’s story from beginning to end, letting us as the audience relive our senior years as she is living hers.
The film does follow into small traps when it comes to introducing and dealing with its characters. Some are given too little screen time to make a big enough difference, and some are given too much screen time and end up making up no difference. There is also some conventional/predictable moments that should have been changed or omitted in order for the film to distance itself more from the coming of age genre.
The greatest contributor to this film is Greta Gerwig as both the writer and director. Just like Jordan Peele, Gerwig comes out of the gate swinging in her directorial debut. She expertly knows how to write authentic dialogue for teenagers. None of it sounds fake or written by an adult trying to emulate what teens sound like. She also uses the camera to make the film have a grounded and time appropriate look to it (the setting is 2002).
This film is littered with great acting in both large and supporting roles. Saoirse Ronan knocks it out of the park as the titular lead. She plays the role with command and confidence, which translates well into her best scenes, all of which come when Laurie Metcalf is present. Metcalf is brilliant as the constrained mother that’s trying her best to keep the family afloat during tough times. She shares excellent chemistry with Ronan and the two of them make for one of the best mother-daughter stories in film.
Other great performances come from Tracy Letts as Lady Bird’s father who is the reserved figure in a house occupied by two women with “strong personalities.” Lucas Hedges follows up his great performance last year in Manchester By the Sea with another respectable turn here as Lady Bird’s first boyfriend, Danny.
Timothée Chalamet does an adequate job as Lady Bird’s other interest but underperforms when compared to his brilliant work in Call Me By Your Name.
Lady Bird is a film that doesn’t invent anything new in the teenage coming of age story genre, but it greatly improves on everything before it. Wonderful performances all around and great directing make this a must-see during the crowded awards season.