‘Lady Bird’ Review: An Endearing Directorial Debut With Great Performances, An Endearing Story

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Starring Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Beanie Feldstein.

Written and directed by Greta Gerwig

Cinematography by Sam Levy

Lady Bird is a coming of age story that doesn’t beg to be compared to the same genre of film of years past. Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is nothing short of inspiring and full of charm and heart. News of the film earning a perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes added to the allure surrounding the film and while the film isn’t perfect, Lady Bird sure does make you feel good, put a smile on your face, and attempts to squeeze a tear from your eye. Stars Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, and Tracy Letts give top-notch performances but don’t outshine their co-stars.

Set in 2002, Lady Bird focuses on the blossoming senior year of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson as she struggles to find her place in society, all while adjusting to a living in a skewed social ladder, her father’s depression, her first loves, and trying to find common peace with her mother, Marion. Gerwig takes a story that would have been told in a week and adds a frenetic pace to it, as though we are reliving the memories of someone reminiscing about the past. Gerwig moves the story along rather quickly, shifting the story from Thanksgiving to New Years in a matter of minutes. Her relationships with both Danny and Kyle move rather quickly, showing the half-life of love at such a volatile age.

Lady Bird herself is a product of her environment. Like the form of expression her brother takes with piercing his face, she acts out the same way with her insistence on being referred to as Lady Bird rather than her given name. Her biggest obstacle isn’t the finding the right guy, or going to the school prom, it’s finding herself and figuring out how she wants to live her life. Much of the film revolves her family’s money problems and the toll that takes on her father. Moreso, the film is about outwardly appearances, or how other people perceive you based on your clothes or wealth. A small scene of Marion fighting with Lady Bird about wrinkling her school uniform stand out when looking back on the film because of what Gerwig is trying to tell us, or what Lady Bird – or even Marion herself – is trying to understand.

She tries so hard to impress the popular, rich girl, even going as far as lying about where she lived. Confronted about not living in a wealthy neighborhood, the response she receives isn’t one of disgust due to classism, it’s disappointment in lying.  More so than outward appearance, the film ultimately stands on being your truest self.

Gerwig’s direction is highly inspired, mainly by Wes Anderson. Some shots evoke that same two-dimensional style frequently seen in his films. There’s even some early Kevin Smith thrown in for good measure.

Saoirse Ronan gives a memorable performance that might be viewed in the same light as other coming-of-age film characters, such as Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink and any cast member in The Breakfast Club. Metcalf’s performance here is one that works because of how much chemistry she shares with Ronan. Their relationship is earnest going from arguing about minute things to falling into each other’s arms. It’s Metcalf’s performance that makes the ending of the film so bittersweet.

Lady Bird is sure to sweep the Golden Globes this season and will, for sure, land four nominations for both actresses and for Greta Gerwig’s double writer, director duty. This is a sweet film that will put a smile on your face and will have you leaving the theater with a warm feeling.