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Lady Bird

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Nov 10, 2017
Saoirse Ronan and Lucas Hedges star in 'Lady Bird'
Saoirse Ronan and Lucas Hedges star in 'Lady Bird'   

"Lady Bird" thankfully has nothing to do with the wife of the 39th President of the United States, but is the self-given name of a feisty 17-year-old Sacramento girl who is finishing her final year in high school. The year is 2002 and Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) is constantly being reminded of how grateful she should be that she gets to attend a private Catholic school on scholarship. The movie opens with her mother Marian (Laurie Metcalf) driving her around checking out colleges in their area, but Lady Bird is having none of it; she is determined to fly the coop, and the state, and study in New York once she graduates.

The family also includes Lady Bird's easygoing, unemployed father (Tracy Letts), her adopted brother Miguel (Jordan Rodriquez) -- with whom she constantly fights -- and his live-in girlfriend. Marian, who works double shifts at the hospital so that they can maintain their very modest life, is a reluctant matriarch who desperately wants to ease up on Lady Bird, but she is too scared of what the consequences might be if she does.

Neither a bright or a popular pupil at school, Lady Bird nevertheless has an unshakeable confidence when it comes to running for school president when she has no real chance of winning, or pursing her first boyfriend when she spots him in drama class. Handsome Danny (Lucas Hedges, from "Manchester By the Sea") is too good to be true, and Lady Bird cannot understand how she has landed him -- that is, until one night she catches him making out with another boy.

She next sets her sights on Kyle (Timothée Chalamet from "Call Me By Your Name") who is a good-looking louche. As he hangs out with a group of spoilt rich kids in her class, Lady Bird ditches her one best friend and pals up with the school's popular beauty Jenna (Odeya Rush) just so she can get closer to Kyle, who doesn't have the same reluctance to take her virginity as Danny had.

It is the relationship between mother and daughter that is the core of the piece. Both women seemed positively scared at times of how deeply they are connected, and of how similar they are on many levels, too. Marion cannot help be a tad jealous that, as she is weighed down by the being the breadwinner, she will never have the freedom that Lady Bird assumes is her right; there is an inevitable big bust-up when she insists on making her own choice about college.

It is an exceptional writing/directing debut from Sacramento native Greta Gerwig, who has been behind the camera before but never completely on her own like this. It is not just the storyline that makes the movie hit home, but the fact that Gerwig has given her wonderful cast such well-rounded and completely believable roles. There is such an authenticity about the drama that is so refreshing, particularly in Marion's multi-layered relationship with Lady Bird.

Ronan as Lady Bird proves that her two Academy Award nominations -- garnered at a young age -- were no fluke (this will definitely give her a third).  She is not alone, however, as Metcalf gives a career-best performance that is an absolute sheer joy to witness. Also, by casting the two hottest and most talented boys who have both just been hailed for their recent breakthrough performances (Hedges and Chalamet), Gerwig ensures that the acting does justice to compelling movie.

"Lady Bird" is classified as a comedy, but its gentle humor is not the laugh-out-loud type, but one that recognizes the funny side of all the angst and joys of growing up. It is a faultless film from a masterful storyteller who Sacremento, and the world, should be proud of.

Lady Bird

Marion McPherson, a California nurse, works tirelessly to keep her family afloat after her husband loses his job. She also maintains a turbulent bond with a teenage daughter who is just like her -- loving, strong-willed and deeply opinionated.

Info

Runtime :: 94 mins
Release Date :: Nov 22, 2017
Language :: Silent
Country :: United States

Cast

Lady Bird McPherson :: Saoirse Ronan
Marion McPherson :: Laurie Metcalf
Larry McPherson :: Tracy Letts
Kyle Scheible :: Timothee Chalamet
Julie Steffans :: Beanie Feldstein
Sister Sarah Joan :: Lois Smith
Father Leviatch :: Stephen Henderson
Jenna Walton :: Odeya Rush
Miguel McPherson :: Jordan Rodrigues
Shelly Yuhan :: Marielle Scott
Mr. Bruno :: Jake McDorman
Greg Anrue :: John Karna
Casey Kelly :: Bayne Gibby
Diana Greenway :: Laura Marano

Crew

Director :: Greta Gerwig
Screenwriter :: Greta Gerwig
Producer :: Scott Rudin
Producer :: Eli Bush
Executive Producer :: Lila Yacoub
Cinematographer :: Sam Levy
Film Editor :: Nick Houy
Original Music :: Jon Brion
Production Design :: Chris Jones
Costume Designer :: April Napier
Casting :: Allison Jones
Casting :: Heidi Griffiths
Casting :: Jordan Thaler


Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.


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