Release: 2nd July 2018
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) fights against but is exactly like her wildly loving, deeply opinionated and strong-willed mom (Laurie Metcalf), a nurse working tirelessly to keep her family afloat after Lady Bird’s father (Tracy Letts) loses his job. Set in Sacramento, California in 2002, amidst a rapidly shifting American economic landscape, Lady Bird is an affecting look at the relationships that shape us, the beliefs that define us, and the unmatched beauty of a place called home.
How do you dislike a film such as Lady Bird? The short answer; you don’t. If John Hughes were still alive today, you’d half expect to see his name somewhere in the credits. Greta Gerwig might come from a background of hipster indie flicks and the odd pungent attempt at franchise building (I’m looking at you Arthur), but her directorial debut seems to be wholly in the camp of brat pack feel-goodery. Here is without a doubt one of the best cinematic debuts in a long time.
Lady Bird has the high intensity jabbering petulance of its titular character, played with aplomb by Saoirse Ronan. Sassy would be the wrong word, but Ronan is the Mike Tyson of restless teenage displeasure, as she spends 90 glorious life affirming minutes sparring with her emotionally aggressive mother, traversing the ugly seas of sexual awkwardness and all at once pushing away a sense of potential that seems too simple to be worthwhile. In short, Lady Bird is the film about every overachieving teenager who ever reached an existential nexus of fear and boredom. The fact that it is made by a woman and about a girl, does not make it more meaningful, it just makes it more rewarding.
From a visual perspective, Gerwig does little to open up her directorial vision. It is by no means souless in its direction, but like Alexander Payne or Hal Ashby, it would seem Gerwig’s strengths lay more in the arena of performance and story beats. From the tender to the tragic, Gerwig corrals her cast through an obstacle course of humanity with a winning smile and a cheeky flourish. This is the Crufts of independent film. Lady Bird is Napoleon Dynamite meets American Beauty and comes out thinking it’s Grey Gardens. It is a film dripping with character and warmth and truth.
In fact just stop reading about it and just bloody watch it, because it is so damn good.
Film Grade: A
A decent Making Of and a fun Director’s Commentary seem about what you’d expect for a little film such as this. But one cannot help wish for more.
Special Features Grade: C-
Ignoring a bunch of side characters who constantly play second fiddle to the two leads, Lady Bird is a joy to behold.