If you’ve seen any number of films featuring actress Greta Gerwig’s acting or writing talents then you’re probably pretty familiar with her onscreen persona. It’s hard to articulate precisely but there’s a uniqueness there that’s tempered with a sense of quirkiness which likely could be off putting to some and totally appealing to others. I’m somewhere in the middle. While I admire and appreciate what Gerwig brings to the plate, her generally odd and quirky nature is best taken in small doses for yours truly.
I mention this as a preamble in my review of her directorial debut Lady Bird simply because her unique personality is evident in every frame of the film. If you’re a huge Gerwig fan then Lady Bird is going to be cat nip. And if you’re just a casual fan, the good news is that you’re likely to still find much to embrace in a film that’s equally moving and bitingly funny.
The character of the film’s title, Lady Bird, is impeccably portrayed by the brilliant up and comer Saoirse Ronan, who made such an indelible impression on audiences two years ago in the beautifully realized Brooklyn. Her work here is a performance you won’t likely forget regardless of your feelings regarding this coming of age tale. Lady Bird (a name she gave herself, having been christened, Christine) is a seventeen year old who’s bursting at the seams to get out of her hometown of Sacramento, California. She’s constantly at odds with her mother regarding the school she’ll attend after high school graduation. Lady Bird pictures herself moving to New York and embracing her artistic side while her mother (Laurie Metcalf), ever aware of the family’s tight financial situation, feels that a more practical solution should be considered. Her father (Tracy Letts), is more open minded to his daughter’s future plans, which puts him also at odds with her mother.
The film’s actual story has a few beats here and there that feel a little over familiar. For instance, there’s the subplot involving Lady Bird ditching her longtime best friend for someone a bit higher on the social ladder. And there are the romantic misadventures that she goes through which also have been similarly done before, even though that doesn’t matter. Lady Bird has enough humor and heart to get it through the overly familiar narrative spots and bring it in to a terrific finish. It’s well worth a look.
Lady Bird is playing in the Winston-Salem/Greensboro area.
Saoirse Ronan as Lady Bird
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