With a dearth of award winning films so far this year, A24’s “Lady Bird” — written and directed by actress Greta Gerwig — has deservedly garnered raves so far on the festival circuit. The film just had its first LA screening for Academy members including Dustin Hoffman, to a rapt reception. This movie hits every heartwarming, funny, sentimental and uncomfortable note. Set in Sacramento (Gerwig’s hometown) the movie tells the story of high school senior Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, who turns 18 during the telling of the story.
Is it a coincidence that Saorise Ronan’s first name includes the word soar? Ronan, 23, is transcendent as Lady Bird. Her love-hate relationships with her town, the Catholic school she attends, her friends and her family, mostly with her mother, wonderfully are played with pathos but never pity. Bad cop Mom Laurie Metcalf, and her struggling Dad, the good cop (Tracy Letts) and her older sullen adopted brother Miguel, (Jordan Rodriques) all weave into a narrative that you want to go on and on.
The film completely captures the fraught nature of the mother-daughter relationship, including the choices Lady Bird makes to go to school back east and her mother not wanting to let her child go. The casting is just a wonder. Besides the main cast, a stand out is Beanie Feldstein (Jonah Hill’s younger sister) playing the best friend, her heartbreak and honesty just leap out at you. Lucas Hedges also delivers a lovely performance as her trying to be conflicted boyfriend. Timothee Chalamet (star of this season’s “Call Me By Your Name”) is a droll hoot as a too-cool-for-school faux hipster.
“Lady Bird,” is in its own movie making lane, and does it all without missing anything. Congrats to Greta Gerwig. She and her actors deserve all the kudos this quirky, deeply felt terrific film is getting.
PS Without a doubt, Oscar nominations for the film, Gerwig as director and writer, Ronan and Metcalf in lead and supporting actress, maybe Letts in supporting actor. Ronan and Metcalf may have already won. What a gem of a film– Roger Friedman