Actress Greta Gerwig started her career in low budget independent films, which eventually led to her magnificent directorial debut in “Lady Bird.”
The film stars Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf in a coming of age story about a senior catholic school girl who wants to break free of her Sacramento, California existence and go off to college in New York. The hour and a half film plays out like a memory as the characters reminisce over their past roots from where they are now.
The film is anchored by Greta Gerwig’s amazing direction and the honest performances of Ronan and Metcalf. At first, this seems like a standard coming of age love story, but the real essence within the film is the relationship between mother and daughter.
Ronan’s performance as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson is poignant and authentic. She embodies the full breadth of a Sacramento teenager, coming of age in a post 9/11 world and discovering who she is. Metcalf is also brilliant playing the role of her mother. This movie is as much her story as it is Lady Bird’s, as their tumultuous yet loving relationship drives the beating heart of this film.
Throughout the film, “Lady Bird” is ignorant to the fact that her mother is going through just as difficult a time as her. They are each experiencing their own intense versions of life, one as a teenage girl on the cusp of adulthood, and one as a financially insecure mother just trying to keep her daughter and family afloat. This mutual misunderstanding is dynamic. Their shared scenes are emotional highlights of the film.
The cast also includes award-winning playwright Tracy Letts, who plays Lady Bird’s confidant father and her two love interests — sweet and kind Danny portrayed by Lucas Hedges, and pseudo-intellectual “too cool for school” Kyle, played by Timothée Chalamet. Beanie Feldstein also acts as Julie, Lady Bird’s best friend and comedic relief scene stealer.
What I admired so much about this movie is that every character had an opportunity to shine and there was closure to their stories. From Lady Bird’s father all the way to the priest running her school musical, each character development is displayed in a beautiful way. From Sam Levy’s cinematography to the wardrobe and specific moments and lines, the movie transpires like pages from a 2002 photo book. This semi-autobiographical film is akin to a cinematic poem.
“Lady Bird” will make audiences laugh, cry and reflect on about how complicated and hysterical life truly is.