It’s tough to find a film in 2017 as real and down-to-earth as Greta Gerwig‘s Lady Bird. This coming-of-age-tale paints a beautiful picture of what it’s like to grow up as Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), a young lady struggling with being more like herself and less like her mother. However, as Christine experiences numerous trials and tribulations due to her environment, she realizes maybe her mother isn’t that bad after all.
Coming-of-age tales are generally predictable. The conclusions are also generally predictable, but it’s the journey that’s unique. Lady Bird‘s direction took me for a very visceral ride alongside a woman in 2003 whom tries to fit in and accomplish her dreams. Lady Bird is a fun, charismatic girl in Sacramento with aspirations of making a living on the east coast. New York liberal arts schools are very expensive, however, and her parents fit on the lower-to-middle class income bracket, making that reality bleak for Lady Bird. From the onset, actors Laurie Metcalf and Saoirse Ronan allow their emotion to bleed through the screen. I felt as if I were inside the car with them once the opening credits ran and we watch as they hit “stop” on an audiobook and argue about life. I couldn’t help but relate in later moments, as many times I had Christmases where Mom said, “I know it’s not much, but we’re a little tight on money this year.”
Gerwig really brings the best out of her cast, giving them spaces where they work best. Not every actor is humorous, but the script — written by Gerwig — plays to each person’s strengths. The performance by Ronan is up there for best of 2017 due to her natural expression. Whether it be emotional breakdowns, outbursts of joy or even moments of levity, I fell in love with sitting back and experiencing life alongside Lady Bird and her family.
There were rarely any instances that I was emotionless — I choked up, I laughed, I smiled, I reminisced on my childhood. I couldn’t help but burst out in laughter during awkward moments or laugh and look around to see if anyone else found the film’s dark humor funny. This film is a gut punch in the best way.
The dynamic between Lady Bird and her father, Larry McPherson (Tracy Letts), was so heartfelt that it became a show-stealer in the second half of the film. Larry is quiet, reserved and dealing with depression. He’s a polar opposite of his wife, but the two click and love one another. The film does well to contrast feel-good moments by showing Lady Bird despise her mother on most days, while falling back on her father for support. It’s not so much that she sees Larry as a pushover, but it’s the realization that her dad genuinely wants to see her achieve her dreams at any cost. This relationship, among many in the film, glue together Lady Bird in ways that many supporting roles fail to do.
It’s tough to find faults in Lady Bird, but the one flaw would be its predictability. As I alluded to earlier, coming-of-age films usually have similar trends. When Lady Bird begins rebelling and acting out, for instance, I knew it wouldn’t last long and she’d eventually find her way back to being herself. There are hardly any surprises, but believe me: when the film drops its biggest bombshell, it’s incredibly unexpected.
That’s … it. Lady Bird excels in many categories and there aren’t enough fingers on both my hands to count the ways I love this film. I left the theater incredibly satisfied with all the back-and-forth by Lady Bird and her mother. I couldn’t help but laugh and smile when thinking about the family dynamic and how we’ve seen Christine go through one of the toughest periods of her life. A24 continues to find some of my favorite films, but I can confidently say that Lady Bird is as close to perfect a film you’ll find in 2017.
I was treated to a press screening for purposes of this review thanks in large part to Allied Integrated Marketing and A24. ❤
Lady Bird is rated R, runs one hour and 33 minutes and opens in South Florida on Friday, Nov. 17.
Here are some theaters showing Lady Bird in South Florida:
Aventura Mall 24 Theatres Aventura
O Cinema Miami Beach Miami Beach
South Beach 18 Miami Beach
Coral Gables Art Cinema Coral Gables
Gateway 4 Fort Lauderdale
Downtown at the Mall Gardens Palm 16 Palm Beach Gardens
Movies of Delray 5 Delray Beach
Cinepolis Jupiter 14 Jupiter
Palace 20 Boca Raton
Shadowood 16 Boca Raton