Movie Review: Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut that flew away with our hearts.

A poster from the film when Lady Bird runs for student office.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Director: Greta Gerwig

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Timothée Chalamet

An early front runner for best picture of the year, Lady Bird is an indie drama about a teenage girl’s life during her senior year of high school and her turbulent relationship with her mother. We follow Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) through her interactions with her friends, love interests, teachers, and of course, family.

This film comes amidst Hollywood’s push towards a more realistic era of coming of age tales that are female centric. Some of these popular films over the years were Marielle Heller’s Diary of a Teenage Girl, Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood, and of course, John Hughes’ Pretty in Pink.  This movement most notably started last year though with Kelly Fremon Craig’s Edge of Seventeen, and this genre is expected to develop over the next few years.

With realistic characters, witty dialogue, and unique scenery, it’s easy to see why Lady Bird is getting a great deal of praise. Much of the success can be accredited to writer and director, Greta Gerwig. Although she has been acting and collaborating with other writers and directors for many years, this is her first solo project. Even though it is not exactly biographical, Gerwig’s incorporation of scenes inspired by her own high school experiences contribute to the triumphs of this film. It allows the audience to connect to the emotions expressed by characters, no matter their background. Gerwig’s specific, realistic aesthetic has pleased indie fans across the country and lead to Lady Bird breaking Toy Story 2‘s previous record of highest rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes.

Set in Sacramento, California during the 2002/2003 school year, setting is used as a central element to weave together different aspects of this film. Although Ronan’s character views Sacramento as, “the midwest of California,” this film is actually a love letter to the city and depicts it beautifully. Gerwig uses a montage at the end of the film when Lady Bird is going off to college to illustrate how you never fully appreciate where you’re from until you leave, which was a reoccurring theme. She explained that she chose to use her hometown as the setting in an interview with the Los Angeles Times because, “[she doesn’t] think there’s enough movies in Sacramento”. No matter the amount of movies made about it, the city has one stunning, appreciative film dedicated to it already.

Another contributor to the success of this film were the characters themselves. Expertly written by Greta Gerwig and cast by Heidi Griffiths, Allison Jones, and Jordan Thaler, every person in this film feels like someone you could’ve met in your own school or seen on the streets in your own town. The exquisite acting of the main and supporting characters contribute to the raw, real feel that this film has.

Saoirse Ronan perfectly depicts a Sacramento teen in the early 2000s, but even high schoolers in 2017 can relate to the emotions she is feeling. Everyone has had their heart broken, failed a test, and fought with their parents. Her performance is receiving early buzz for this awards season, and she has already been nominated for best actress at the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice.

Timothée Chalamet has been praised for his performance as Kyle Sheible, a laid back musician who is never without his copy of A People’s History of the United States.  This supporting role gained Chalamet wider recognition though as well as his lead role in Call By Your Name, a highly acclaimed film that is also in contention for best picture this year.

Lady Bird is an impeccable film that pays homage to Sacramento and showcases the relationships that are shared by everyone. It illustrates the confusion of being 17 years old and not knowing what you want to do with your life, where you want to go to college, or even who you are as a person. This film is truly a story about finding yourself and loving the family and hometown that shaped you along the way.

Check out this beautiful film, and watch for it this upcoming awards season at the Golden Globes and the Oscars!

Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan