Relating the experiences of your teenage years is both a universal and deeply personal effort. Cinema is littered with this, but it’s rare that you really connect with the filmmaker telling the tale in such a way. This week, that happens to be the case when Lady Bird opens. The baby of multi hyphenate Greta Gerwig, it’s one of the year’s very best films. Essentially, this is a coming of age classic in the making. You don’t need to be a teenage girl, past or present, to appreciate what Gerwig has done here. Not only is she a talented actress and writer, she’s now showcasing just how strong a director she is. You’ll be blown away.
Set in Northern California during the early 2000’s, the movie follows high school senior Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) as she fights with her strong willed mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf), goes about the final year of school, and plans on moving to New York for college. That urge is despised by Marion, though quietly supported by her father Larry (Tracy Letts). Lady Bird spends her days hanging out with best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein), flirts with Danny (Lucas Hedges), and lusts after Kyle (Timothée Chalamet). Sacramento is where she calls home, but her heart is set on moving east, regardless of her mother’s wishes. That’s just the barest bones of it all, but the fun is in seeing these characters all evolve. It’s an absolute delight. Gerwig writes and directs, with the supporting cast including Stephen Henderson, Kathryn Newton, Jordan Rodrigues, Odeya Rush, Lois Smith, and Daniel Zovatto, among others. Sam Levy handles the cinematography, while the score comes to us from Jon Brion.
This is one of the loveliest movies of 2017. Everything about it is a true delight. Whatever you’ve heard during the fall film festival circuit about this one is not only true, but an understatement. Ronan has never been better, Metcalf is a treasure, Letts is a secret weapon, and Gerwig has complete control from behind the camera. The movie is funny, yet also touching. It’s wise, yet always witty. It’s specific, yet also universal. The successes here are all across the board. The word out of the Telluride Film Festival was that Metcalf a threat in Best Supporting Actress, but that won’t be the only place where the flick contends for Academy Awards. See below for more, but suffice to say, we have a contender on our hands.
Oscar could very well come calling for Lady Bird. A full throated campaign should be launched, with efforts in Best Picture, Best Director (for Gerwig), Best Actress (for Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (for Metcalf), and Best Original Screenplay (also for Gerwig) potentially within reach. There’s also categories like Best Supporting Actor (for Letts), Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score to pursue as well. Metcalf in Supporting Actress seems pretty likely to happen, while Gerwig in Original Score and even Picture are within their grasp. A lot is still to be decided, but A24 has something voters could go wild for on their hands here. The precursors will be vital.
This weekend, audiences can start to see what the festival circuit has seen when Lady Bird hits theaters. If you like Gerwig, you’ll love what she’s doing here, even without her on the screen. Ronan is a wonderful stand in, Metcalf delivers one of the best supporting turns of the year, and the script is a joy to witness delivered. A nearly perfect little film, you’ll feel nostalgic for the Sacramento is a decade and a half ago, even if you’ve never spent a moment of your life there. It’s just a marvelous movie. Give it a look and you’ll understand what all of the fuss is about…
Be sure to check out Lady Bird, beginning its theatrical run this coming Friday!