In Brief: Fun flick. One of the best teen-girl/teen angst movies ever.
Saoirse Ronan is Lady Bird. That actually isn’t her name. It’s Christine. Sh decided as a young girl that Lady Bird would be a better name. That’s important but not. Lady Bird is a senior in high school. She and her mother — done in a wonderfully tightly wound way by Laurie Metcalf — have a typical mom and daughter relationship. It’s not all out war but close.
Mom is a perfectionist and expects perfection from her daughter. She wants Lady Bird to go to college close by in Sacramento. The girl wants a school as far away as possible from the home nest. An East coast school would be preferable.
Not affordable but preferable.
School is not easy for Lady Bird. She not only has a love-hate relationship with her mom but the Catholic school she attends is not a breeze either. Lady Bird is also stretching into serious love territory for the first time. It’s typical of the normal teen experience.
Ronan (Brooklyn, Grand Budapest Hotel) is a serious young actress with major league skills. She brings it home here and has as much fun with this character as with any other she’s played. Her Lady Bird is bored to tears with school, anxious to get on with her life and even more anxious to be rid of her mom.
Best of all — you believe her.
Metcalf — who has come a long way since TV’s Rosanne — also brings it home as her control-freak mom. Their love-hate relationship rings true and is authentic. Metcalf is perfectly loving one second and then a controlling shrew the next. Though she behaves like an adult and behaves like a mother, it helps that her character is written from the teenager’s point of view rather than that of the adult.
Lady Bird is written and directed by writer/actress Gretta Gerwig who penned Francis Ha and Mistress America. She’s an excellent actress best known for arthouse flicks like Francis Ha, Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love, Greenberg and others. Gerwig is also a wonderfully talented writer and now director.
There is a lot to love about this film. Normally the teen-girl/teen-angst genre is predictably sucky with performances from an up and coming cutie. That’s not the case here. This is rich, deep storytelling and definitely worth catching if it’s at a theater near you.
Director: Greta Gerwig
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Odeya Rush, Lois Smith, Tracy Letts, Larry McPhereeson, Lucas Hedges, Timothee Chalamet
Greta Gerwig’s film is brilliantly written and acted. A must see that rates 5 on the Average Joe Movie 0 to 5 scale.
5 to 4 1/2: Must see on the big screen.
4 to 3 1/2: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 to 2 1/2: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 to 1: Don’t bother.
0:Speaks for itself.
Gary Wolcott has been a movie consultant for KXL since 2014. A lifelong fan of film, he’s been a film critic in radio, television and newspaper for 25-years. Wolcott catches a couple of hundred movies a year and he sees a great many of them so you don’t have to.
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