Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird is a film that meets the base criteria of “a high school movie,” but exceeds that distinction at every turn and is rather a mother-daughter character study par excellence. Like all suburban realism art it excels because of all the recognizable little, human moments.
It is evident that Lady Bird shares scenes with Gerwig’s autobiography. It must. There are too many unique details and unexpected (and un-cinematic) turns. Not that the unexpected is bad necessarily; in fact, here it makes for a great whole. Gerwig has had many moments in front of the camera. However, the best thing she did for Lady Bird was stay behind the camera. Not because her acting presence would have negated anything, but so that she could give her full attention to the direction. And she does well. Expect Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay nominations (and maybe even Director).
Saoirse Ronan is the title character and she is asked to do quite a bit (slip out of the brogue, being one), and carries it all without seeming to break a sweat. Her career is tracing the footsteps of Blanchett and Winslet. The performance of the movie, however, is that of Laurie Metcalf as Lady Bird’s concerned mother. It’s the best of her long career and she will certainly be rewarded for it. Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, and Tracy Letts all give great portrayals of characters in valleys of uncertainty and renewal.
The film is a love letter to hometowns and parents and class struggle and the beauty of everyday life in the American 21st Century. It may seem cheesy, but nothing sparks sentimentality like self-reflection and recollecting from whence you came.