A delightfully novel take on the classic “coming of age” story, Lady Bird joins the ranks of last year’s Edge of Seventeen in excellent, women-focused stories of adolescence. Buy the ticket.
The Good: The cast, the script, the direction, the editing. Everything. It’s everything.
This is one of those films that feels like a personal letter, penned by the writer/director to her own past, but only brought to life by the personal touch of the cast. It watches like a memory, a film that, without the A24 title beforehand, might be mistaken for a home video. And it just works.
The star, of course, is Saoirse Ronan, who has had an incredible career in such a short amount of time. Since her debut in 2007 she’s been nominated twice for an Academy Award, and starred in the likes of Atonement, The Lovely Bones, Hanna, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Brooklyn. Of all of her roles, this feels like Ronan’s most personal, and pushes her to a place that previous roles – often more docile – have never gone.
Her antithesis, or perhaps future, is her mother, played by Laurie Metcalf. This is an equally powerful performance, though with a hardness and loving spite that stands out against Ronan’s naivety and adolescent drama. It is all but guaranteed that one of these two fantastic actors will receive a nomination.
None of this is possible without the personal hand of director and writer Greta Gertwig. Regardless of other nominations, she deserves one for best screenplay; it plays more naturally than most films of recent memory, each line sounding completely natural. This is how people, friends, families, really speak to one another. This naturalism, combined with the lived-in feel of the performances, makes the film shine in a way that only sad familiarity can.
The Bad: Nothing of consequence.
Seriously, nothing. It’s being lauded as the best film of the year by some, and while it doesn’t go as far as say The Florida Project, they wouldn’t be crazy to think that either.
The Ugly: This trend of women-led and focused slice of life films continues to delight.
It’s about time. The story of the boy coming of age, or of male adolescence, is close to being the oldest story in the history of oral and written tradition. Hollywood has done it to death. Meanwhile, this new wave of women’s coming of age stories, or just stories about girls, feels new and refreshing. Keep them coming, especially from women writers and directors.
In Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig reveals herself to be a bold new cinematic voice with her directorial debut, excavating both the humor and pathos in the turbulent bond between a mother and her teenage daughter. Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) fights against but is exactly like her wildly loving, deeply opinionated and strong-willed mom (Laurie Metcalf), a nurse working tirelessly to keep her family afloat after Lady Bird’s father (Tracy Letts) loses his job. Set in Sacramento, California in 2002, amidst a rapidly shifting American economic landscape, Lady Bird is an affecting look at the relationships that shape us, the beliefs that define us, and the unmatched beauty of a place called home. – Rotten Tomatoes