Lady Bird is Greta Gerwig’s big breakthrough in solo directing and what an incredible way to kick things off. The experienced comedy/drama actress and writer exhibits her exceptional writing and directing talents here with this beautifully emotional coming-of-age story about family, love, and how the people around you, your beliefs, and your home shape your overall personality and growth as a person. Set in 2002, the film follows 17 year-old Lady Bird McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) on her coming-of-age journey of growth and self-discovery highlighting her relationships with those around her including her very opinionated mother (Laurie Metcalf). This is some great emotional storytelling that isn’t predictable in the slightest and hits you when you least expect it. On top of the more dramatic events, Gerwig has this subtle comedic tone looming throughout the entire film with humour being sporadically thrown in at just the right moments to lighten up the mood.
As far as the performances go Saoirse Ronan is by a mile the standout as she brings plenty of depth to her character who goes through a number of emotional and behavioural changes in such a short amount of time. Being a very expressive and extroverted character this gives Ronan room to express Lady Bird’s thoughts and feelings through a variety of ways. Through this the character grows on you as time passes and you find yourself loving her but also not necessarily agreeing with all of her actions despite understanding them. There are one or two scenes in here from Ronan that are so powerful I can already see one of them being her Oscars clip this coming Oscar Sunday. When it comes to conversation about Lady Bird, not many are talking about Laurie Metcalf because of all of the attention on Ronan and Gerwig but I thought she was incredible as the mother and had a number of very emotional scenes clashing with her daughter. Aside from those two roles though no-one else really stands out too much. I did enjoy watching Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, and Tracy Letts in the film but their performances were just good, I didn’t think anything too great of them.
The star of the show however is Greta Gerwig who you can tell has put a tonne of passion into this project because it shows in the near impeccable writing and directing prowess. The writing of every scene is so tight and direct that she manages to explore Lady Bird’s life with a lot of detail and at such a fittingly quickened pace that it’s amazing she managed to fit this all in an hour and a half. Despite moving at a quick pace it knows when to slow down for some more character centric moments where the dialogue is at times tremendously impactful and to the point allowing the plot to move forward. Greta Gerwig grew up in Sacramento (where this story is set) and it is evident in how the town is very much a character in this story and plays into Lady Bird’s character and her overall development. The way Gerwig ties everything together so neatly is a testament to her directing ability, something I hope we get to see more of in the near future.
So in the end, as a lover of great coming-of-age stories I very much enjoyed Lady Bird. It’s a different more personal coming-of-age story focusing on some familiar themes but also some unique ones that have come from Gerwig who has put her all into this project. And the effort is well worth it as it has made Gerwig one of only 5 female directors to receive a directing nomination in the history of the Academy Awards. With the Oscars coming up fast it’ll be interesting to see how many awards the film takes home and even if it somehow happens to be none at the very least it’s good it is being recognised. I personally didn’t have any issues with the way anything was handled, there was maybe a scene or two that I thought were starting to lead down a slower, less engaging route but it picks back up almost immediately. If you are a fan of coming-of-age stories or just want to check out one of the best Oscar-calibre films of the year than this is worth the watch.