REVIEW: Lady Bird

Review by Dustin Heller

Lady Bird is the new comedy-drama from the ultra-talented writer and director Greta Gerwig.  The film serves as Gerwig’s solo directorial debut, but she is most known for her outstanding acting in such films Frances Ha and Mistress America, both of which she co-wrote.  Saoirse Ronan stars in the film as the titular Lady Bird, and she gets supporting help from Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson and Lois Smith.  Lady Bird is rated R for language, sexual content, brief graphic nudity and teen partying.

The film takes a look into the life of high school senior Christine McPherson, who goes by the name “Lady Bird.”  Lady Bird lives in Sacramento and attends Catholic school, but is desperate to leave by all means necessary.  She wants to go to college on the East Coast, but her family just doesn’t have the money for such an undertaking.

All of this is overshadowed by the tumultuous relationship Lady Bird has with her mother, Marion. Lady Bird can’t seem to do anything right and is throwing her future away according to her mother, whereas Lady Bird thinks Marion is mean and doesn’t love her.  Throw in a passive but loving father, a less-than-cool best friend, a gay boyfriend, and some other interesting characters, and you have the complicated life of Lady Bird.

Lady Bird is a smart and charming coming-of-age film that shows off the extraordinary talents of Greta Gerwig as a writer and director.  There has always been something special about Gerwig since her breakout role in Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg back in 2010.  She just seems to have that “it” factor that is evident in everything she does.  Her script for Lady Bird is witty, clever, and downright funny at times and should really be in consideration come awards season.

Everything about this film feels independent and reflects the true artistic expression of the filmmaker. Even though Gerwig could have probably starred as the lead in the film, Saoirse Ronan makes the character her own and gives an inspirational performance.  Another best of the year candidate.  Laurie Metcalf, of Roseanne fame, turns in a powerhouse performance of her own and really shows a lot of range as an actor.

Needless to say, I was very impressed with this film from top to bottom and it is on the short list of my favorite films of the year.  Lady Bird is a lock for the arthouse crowd, but I think there is something there for even the casual movie fan.  Go check it out.

Grade:  A-

Lady Bird opens in Indianapolis on Friday, November 17