Growing up is the central theme in Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird, a small in scope but big in heart comedy-drama that hits all the right notes.
The film deals with high school senior Christine “Lady Bird” McPhearson, played by Saoirse Ronan, and her many relationships with friends, romantic interests, and most prominently, with her mother, Marion, played by Laurie Metcalf.
What is most unbelievable about this film is that it is made by a first-time director — Greta Gerwig seems so seasoned with her direction, that you would be forgiven to think this was a long-time working professional.
Even more so, the script, also written by her, is probably the film’s greatest achievement. ‘Lady Bird’ actually feels like you’re watching real people interact, aided strongly by Gerwig’s fantastic dialogue. It actually reminded me a lot of Noah Baumbach’s writing, with whom she has worked with before a few times and is currently dating, so I’m sure he was a big influence on her.
They say 90% of directing is casting, and if that is true, then Greta Gerwig excels on that front. Saoirse Ronan, who has been a working-actress ever since her big debut in Atonement, which earned her an Oscar nomination back in 2007, has finally made a role that could actually define her career, in my opinion. Charming in many ways, Ronan plays an incredible character that I couldn’t imagine anyone else doing. You like her, dislike her, but in the end, you understand her — and that’s what makes the character such a brilliant creation.
And while Ronan’s character provides most of the humor, Laurie Metcalf’s Marion brings a lot of the drama that makes ‘Lady Bird’ in the end feel so special. Metcalf’s performance is so layered, and you can feel the character’s struggle to keep her family together. It’s a difficult role to portray, but she does it with perfection, with a performance that should at least be nominated in this year’s Academy Awards.
If I had to point out a flaw, it would be that the film is very light, and, in the end, might come-off as a bit predictable. But I’m not sure it should be a flaw — Lady Bird’s simplicity is what makes it so special, and even an instant-classic. This is one is not to be missed.