Director: Greta Gerwig
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf
4.5 (Out of 5) Globes
Plot: In the summer before she goes off to college Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), who insists on being called Lady Bird, has to deal with her burgeoning love life, as her feelings for both Danny O’Neill (Lucas Hedges) and Kyle (Timothee Chalamet) grow. At the same time her friendship with her life-long pal Julie Steffans (Beanie Feldstein) alters, and her relationship with her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) becomes more and more fractious, especially when her father Larry (Tracy Letts) loses his job. But through all of this strife “Lady Bird” holds out for her dream of moving from her West Coast home of Sacramento to an East Coast college.
Review: “Lady Bird” is many things. It is a film that gets the particulars of teenage friendship down to such a tee that you’ll instantly feel wistful, it will make you laugh with glee, reminisce and shudder at your first loves, kisses, and romantic struggles, while your heart will swell over the mother and daughter relationship that is its backbone and empowers everything that unfolds. Also, it somehow so detailed that it will make you feel so nostalgic for the early 00s that you’ll instantly feel old, too.
While the male supporting cast all chime in notably, “Lady Bird” is able to soar so high because of the trifecta of women that are at its core. Writer and director Greta Gerwig, its leading lady Saoirse Ronan, and the towering matriarch Laurie Metcalf are so imperious that all three are now staring down the barrel of, at the very least, Oscar nominations. First off let’s talk about Ronan, who is an always loveable, steadfast, yet naïve and flawed beacon of light that shines throughout “Lady Bird,” as she makes Christine immediately feel fully formed and as though, maybe, just maybe, the world really does revolve around her.
Off the back of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Brooklyn,” “Lady Bird” not only shows that Ronan has a knack for picking resonant roles that she can then reinforce and build upon, but that she has a soul and wit that you immediately invest in. Metcalf is an exacting and more than worthy sparring partner for Ronan, and whenever the duo are on screen together you’re immediately confronted with the jambalaya of emotions that boils throughout every paternal relationship. It is so powerful that even when they’re not together you can feel Marion’s specter hanging over Christine.
It helps that Gerwig’s script is so perfectly precise that their relationship never becomes overbearing, while, as a director, she also leaves room for the actors to truly bring their characters to life, warts and all.
There are explosions of both minor and major conflict, the tease of inner demons that have been left untouched for decades, and come the end of Lady Bird’s refreshingly tight yet minimally epic 93-minute running time you’re left feeling genuinely moved, enthused, and enriched by what has unfolded.
“Lady Bird” isn’t just the sort of film that makes any day better, but it suggests that Gerwig has a cinematic voice unlike any other, and that, even at 23, Ronan really has what it takes to blossom into one of the finest actresses of her generation.