Lady Bird - 2017
Director(s): Greta Gerwig
Writer(s): Greta Gerwig
Cinematography by: Sam Levy
Editor(s): Nick Houy
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Beanie Feldstein, Lois Smith, Lucas Hedges and Laurie Metcalf
Synopsis: A year in the life of self-proclaimed Lady Bird, as she survives her last year high school.
The opening of this movie perfectly encapsulates who our protagonist, Christine, or the name she has given herself, Lady Bird, played perfectly by Saoirse Ronan, is. She is driving back from touring college campuses with her mom, played by Laurie Metcalf and they are crying while listening to the end of a book on tape of Grapes of Wrath. They are sharing a beautiful moment and as soon as the tape is over they dive into a heated argument over multiple things including her life goals that ends with Lady Bird throwing herself out the moving car. Her growth as a person and the volatile but loving relationship between her and her mother is the driving force of this “quirky”, fun and endearing movie.
This marks the solo directorial debut of Greta Gerwig, who also served as the writer. Gerwig has always shined as a writer, proving herself in 2012’s Frances Ha as a voice to lookout for in the future. I was excited to hear all the positive and excited chatter coming from the critics I respect after the festival screenings. After watching it, I can say all my expectations were met and then some. What I enjoyed about Gerwig’s direction is how straightforward she was. There was nothing fancy or over the top with her framing, camerawork or transitions. She trusted that her material and her actors were strong enough to carry the movie forward and didn’t call attention to herself as a director. For this being the first time as a director, she showcased a clear dominance over her director role and I look forward to seeing her growth within it.
Where Gerwig shined the brightest was with her script. Yes, if you have ever seen a coming of age movie you will know the beats this movie will hit. But it’s not the destination it’s the journey, something that perfectly reflects the protagonist’s situation as well. There are multiple details and tiny moments that stand out for being so realistic or human, for lack of a better term. At times, it felt as if I was recalling memories of my past, my dad losing his job and we as a family having a “small” Christmas because my parents still wanted us to have one. The small ways we as children hurt our parents with our words and our ungratefulness. Lady Bird’s comments of “growing up on the wrong side of the tracks” cuts her mother deep because one of her favorite Sunday activities is going to open houses she could never afford to buy with her double shifts at the hospital. The script is funny, sweet, sad, thoughtful and always keeps the audience fully engaged.
With a great script, you need a great cast to deliver the goods. Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn and The Grand Budapest Hotel) continues to prove that she is one of the best young actors working today. She consistently chooses and delivers in great indies that range from action to Wes Anderson to comedies. Ronan has the perfect dancing partner in Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne) as she throws at Ronan every insult and compliment in the book. I know a lot women/moms like Metcalf depicted on screen and she completely nailed it. She loves so much and that wants/expects perfection from her loved one. But she is so high-strung that when that perfection doesn’t arrive she results to pushing her thinking it’s the best way to get the “best version” of her loved one. While at times it can be tiring, there is never a moment in your mind that it comes from a deep place of love. The rest of the cast is solid, not really having any major weak link to single out.
Quick note: I’m not afraid to say that this is the first film of the year since Lion that made me cry. I connected to the source material, especially the father subplot.
Lady Bird is another great human focus indie in a year ripped with stories of this nature and managed to completely stand out among them. The cast is phenomenal and story is engaging and fun. Gretta Gerwig had some high expectations on her shoulders coming in to her debut and managed to deliver. Gerwig’s writing is why I love movies.
Lady Bird is currently playing on theaters. Go see it now before it flies away.
If you like this review let me know in the comment section down below. Also, follow me over at Twitter (@yILovemovies) or over on Facebook, so you can be up to date with all my reviews.