Lady Bird ★★★★½

I have always been a sucker for coming of age films.  Over the years I have seen many that have felt relatable, Kings of Summer, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, but few have had the heart and soul of Lady Bird.

Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson, played by Saoirse Ronan, is a seventeen year old living in Sacramento California who longs for a more fulfilling life.  She is in constant disagreement with her mother, played by Laurie Metcalf, who only wants to best for her daughter while she might not always know the best ways to demonstrate it.      

Contrary to what I was thinking leaving the theatre, this film was not about me.  It was not about a teenage boy growing up in a suburban city in Wisconsin always disillusioned with where he was with life, always wanting more than life could give him.  Lady Bird is written and directed by Greta Gerwig who poured her heart and soul onto the silver screen; Gerwig made a movie about herself growing up in Sacramento and how she thought that the town and social status was the reason that she couldn’t succeed in life.  It felt as if Gerwig had jumped back into a time machine and went into every adolescent’s life and captured the inner dialogue that they were having with themself.  It felt like I could have been hallucinating most of this movie, the situations all felt like they came from my life when they clearly were from Gerwig’s.  The artist should make art which reflects their true self and then the audience can see it and hopefully be able to empathize with the artist or hopefully feel a special bond created between the two.  The screenplay by Gerwig is pitch perfect, it captures the tone and thoughts of every character making them the most relatable and authentic that they could possibly be.  The screenplay is only the first step in bringing the characters to life.  Perhaps the most important element in the film is the cast.

Greta Gerwig and casting agents Heidi Griffiths, Allison Jones, and Jordan Thaler put together the perfect cast for Lady Bird.  Every actor brings a humane performance to the character that they are playing with the standouts being Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf.  Ronan keeps proving that she is one of the best actresses working after giving phenomenal performances in Brooklyn and Atonement.  Parents might find Ronan’s character of Christine ‘Lady Bird’ to be a pretentious wandering teenager who takes her entire world for granted, but I found her to be wise beyond her years with a tremendous amount of innocence with naivety.  While to some that might sound like a contradiction, I would recommend reflecting on your teenage years and I would speculate that you thought you knew everything until you realized that you knew nothing.  While I truly only know Laurie Metcalf from The Big Bang Theory as Sheldon’s mother, I must express that I hope she appears in more theatrical works.  Her performance is one of the most authentic portrayals of a frustrated mother who only wants the best for her daughter that I have ever seen.  She feels that she always has to speak her mind and while at times it is passive aggressive, she still has a heart of gold.  During the third act of the film she delivers a performance that left me in tears, knowing that I have been on the other side, and in retrospect, the wrong side of the argument before saying hurtful things because I wanted to feel like the one in control. If studio A24 hasn’t started an Oscar campaign for the two actresses I would recommend that it start the train moving at full speed because the actresses give career best performances and deserve recognition for the outstanding work in the film.  

For those who adored The Edge of Seventeen this movie is for you, it has that same authentic feel that will leave you smiling one moment and crying the next.  Lady Bird is one of the most authentic films of the year and everyone owes it to themselves to see this film.  Cinema reflects who we are as a society and a culture.  Lady Bird shows us is that we all have the same thoughts and feelings growing up while the situations and circumstances might be different, the emotional outcome is the same.

Rating: See It

Jonny G liked these reviews