Greta Gerwig’s sophomore directorial effort, “Lady Bird” (which she also wrote), could very well be one of 2017’s best films. Saoirse Ronan shines, like she usually does, proving once again that she does not need to take roles in potential Hollywood blockbusters to have a successful career. 2013’s would-be franchise starter, “The Host” was a small blip in an otherwise wonderful filmography. I loved her in 2015’s “Brooklyn” and she delivers an equally wonderful turn in “Lady Bird”.
Set in 2002 Sacramento, California, Christine McPherson (who prefers to be called Lady Bird) has one goal. She wants to get as far away from home as possible and go to college in New York. She is so much into her own desires that she doesn’t take the time to think about how hard her mother (Laurie Metcalf) is working just to keep a roof over her family’s head. Christine’s father (Tracy Letts) lost his job thanks to the shifting economic landscape.
Christine has one friend, Julie (Beanie Feldstein), but she begins to push her to the side in order to impress the school’s resident popular girl Jenna (Odeya Rush) and a boy she likes named Kyle (Timothée Chalamet). This all happens after Christine’s budding romance with Danny (Lucas Hedges) doesn’t go the way she hoped.
The heart of “Lady Bird” is the turbulent relationship between Christine and her mother. Laurie Metcalf, whom most people know from TV’s “Roseanne” and “The Big Bang Theory” is wonderful here. In a career spanning nearly four decades, this is quite possibly her most memorable role in a feature film. Admittedly, 1989’s “Uncle Buck” supporting role would be a close second. “Lady Bird” is at its’ best when focusing on the mother-daughter relationship.
I would have to say that coming-of-age films and high-school set dramatic comedies usually wind up being some of the most memorable films for me, especially when they so smartly written and well directed. Having such a talented cast also helps of course. I found myself reminded of last year’s “The Edge of Seventeen”, which I also loved. It will be easy for a film like “Lady Bird” to be lost in the multiplexes when it opens against tent pole films like “Justice League” and others. Don’t let this one slip by.
By: Marc Ferman