Courtesy of A24 Films
I wish it would be possible for me to convey just how perfect "Lady Bird" is, an authentic observation of an adolescent's journey into self discovery. Being helmed by longtime actress, now turned writer and director, Greta Gerwig, "Lady Bird" checks all the boxes of most coming of age comedy dramas: heartbreak, laughter, smoking pot, and losing your virginity. What makes it perfect is how it redeems itself, how it doesn't feel like a poppy "Clueless" or down to earth "The Breakfast Club," it's very much it's own thing. An original canvas that captures the essence and tone of naughty teen flicks and high school in general.
Saorise Ronan takes the lead playing Christine McPherson, but she first and foremost goes by her self inflicted nickname "Lady Bird." Fans who enjoyed Julia Stiles performance in "10 Things I Hate About You" will easily be able to identify comparisons as the two are sarcastic and smart teenage characters that are well ahead of their time. The film is set in 2002, and Christine is about the same age Gerwig would've been at the time, making for an already personal experience.
At the heart and crux of the narrative lies the constant battle of supremacy between Lady Bird and her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf in an amazing, tour de force, performance). The film opens and closes with the two bickering about potential college opportunities. Christine wants to head out east to the big city of New York, instead of rotting away in the slums of Sacramento, where she attends an uptight, expensive, Catholic central high school which she can only afford because of a scholarship. Christine is obsessed with the potential of her future, and she enlists in her loving father, (Tracy Letts , yes, the exceptional playwright proves his acting chops here), to help apply for financial aid so she can pursue her ambitions.
Along the way she endures the normal troupes of senior year: the first real boyfriend she has (Lucas Hedges from "Manchester by the Sea") is all fine until she catches him making out with a boy. And, at first, she condescends her hatred onto him, but as the movie grows, so does she. Christine seems to understand that he might be having a hard time as well. Beanie Feldstein ("Neighbors 2") turns up for a nice supporting role playing Christine's best friend and I'd be remiss not to mention the brief role of the great Stephen Henderson as the director of the school's musical. One of my favorite moments in the film is when he plays an acting game with his cast that requires them to cry on command (the first person to cry wins) and he ends up being the winner.
With the award season slowly looming around the corner, movies like "Lady Bird" really come at a time to shake up the race. It's easy to predict a slew of nominations for the likes of Gerwig, Metcalf, and Ronan - but it's so refreshing to see female talent getting the spotlight (finally!). In a year when Petty Jenkins delivered the best DC comics film yet in "Wonder Women," and Dee Rees shaking the world with "Mudbound," here comes Gerwig, in her directorial debut mind you, to show the best of what teenage movies can be. She nails the look and feel of those teenage years, and infuses it with so much heart and soul. She offers us a look into the turbulence of life.
Much like Lady Bird in the film, Gerwig, in her first movie as a writer and director, has given herself the tools to succeed, and most importantly, allowed her wings to fly. A