There is something about a coming of age story that always manages to pull me in. The good ones leave lasting impressions, and great ones leave us with characters we hold dear. Lady Bird is the latter and cements Greta Gerwig as a top-notch Hollywood writer and director. The film features one of the best mother/daughter relationships ever to grace the silver screen, with performances to match.
Lady Bird features amazing performances and lots of good humor
Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is a senior in a Catholic High School in Sacramento, California. She struggles with her place in the private school and the world as her family’s financial issues cloud her desired future of being a college student in New York. Lady Bird’s relationship with her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf), is loving yet strained as the two rarely see eye to eye on anything. It’s this relationship that really makes the movie amazing, and is only solidified by the way her father, Larry (Tracy Letts), navigates the tumultuous waters.
Ronan delivers another Oscar-worthy performance – she was also nominated for Best Actress for Brooklyn (2015) and Best Actress in a supporting role for Atonement (2007) – as possibly the most realistic teenage character ever written. While her performance in the titular role is impressive, it should be noted that this film has an amazing supporting cast. Metcalf and Letts are both fantastic, but the big surprise standout was Beanie Feldstein as Lady Bird’s best friend, Julie. Her performance is subtle, and manages to actually steal scenes at times. She clearly has a crush on their math teacher (which Gerwig doesn’t over-dramatize as she shows great restraint with this little aspect), and it’s shown through these little facial expressions and reactions to simple compliments that just brought smiles and light laughs to the people in the audience.
It’s easy to connect with the characters…
As Lady Bird is trying to find her place in the school, a kind-hearted nun, Sister Sarah Joan (Lois Smith), suggested she try out for the drama club. It’s here that Lady Bird meets Danny (Lucas Hedges), an early crush on the premise of the film. Although their relationship is sweet and super cute on screen, high school love is bound to end. In fact, the film really focuses on all of the various relationships Lady Bird is juggling and is one of the reasons Ronan deserves the award recognition. Her interactions with the various characters and her ability to convey the expertly crafted script that Gerwig has written is what makes this film stand out amongst so many other great teen films.
Lady Bird’s goal is simple: she wants to get out of her crappy hometown and live in a big city thriving culture. She may become a writer, an actress, or something more than the world she knows now. The familiar idea and cliché of “the grass is always greener on the other side” is employed in a way that feels completely original, and it is a pure joy to watch. The movie always seems grounded and completely realistic while managing to have stakes the audience is fully invested in.
Lady Bird is currently in an extremely limited release, but expect it to go wide as the award season kicks into high gear. This is a film that really is for everyone and one that mothers and daughters, in particular, will likely connect with. There is no hesitation in giving this film the Must See rating with an enthusiastic shout of teenage rebellion and the desire for adventure, knowing there is something more than this small town.