Directed by Greta Gerwig
Reviewed by Brandon Bishop November 29, 2017
“I live on the wrong side of the train tracks.”
Actress and writer Greta Gerwig, best known for her work with Noah Baumbach, including a Golden Globe-nominated turn in Frances Ha, makes her solo directorial debut with Lady Bird, which she also wrote. Lady Bird stars Saoirse Ronan of The Lovely Bones, directed by Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy), and for Brooklyn, for which she received an Academy Award Nomination in 2015. She plays high school senior Christine McPherson, who rebelliously prefers her chosen name, Lady Bird.
Saoirse Ronan astounds here. She brings an incredible honestly and palpably earnest desire for independence to Lady Bird. Her career shows more and more promise with every film she is in. She effortlessly sells the joys and pains of youth. Laurie Metcalf, who has appeared in films since the 1980’s and is best known for her television sitcom work such as Roseanne, appears as Lady Bird’s mother. Metcalf gives what can simply be called the performance of her career. She has never played a character with such honesty. Raising teenagers can be joyous as well as confusing and angering, and she never misses a beat as a woman struggling to connect with her daughter, who will be inevitably leaving for college soon.
Lady Bird boasts smart writing and a talented cast. It does move from scene to scene rapidly, but it works here and delivers a trim and personal story. Every scene is important, and not a minute is wasted. It admittedly hits a lot of the beats of the genre, like rebelliousness, youthful ignorance, romance, sexual maturity, etc., and this film, like so many others, could be at a glance mistaken for a basic, high school-set coming of age story. However, Gerwig handles each with forthright sincerity and the cast delivers every now and then we get a good one, and sometimes we get a very good one, like Lady Bird. It stands happily among Juno and The Edge of Seventeen as an honest, well written, and superbly performed portrait of millennial adolescence.