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Film Review – Lady Bird (2017)

With Thanksgiving over and done, the focus of many individuals turns to the Christmas season…and the frontrunners for Best Picture in the 2018 Oscar race!  A24 is no stranger to this time of year after winning for Moonlight last year, and now they appear to have another film that should contend for some shiny, gold trophies in Lady Bird.  The following review will be spoiler free.

Lady Bird

Synopsis

Directed By: Greta Gerwig

Written By: Greta Gerwig

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, and Timothee Chalamet

Christine, or “Lady Bird” (Ronan) as she likes to call herself, is entering her senior year of high school in the suburbs of Sacramento, California, a city that she cannot wait to leave.  As she begins to plan her life after high school by applying to colleges, Lady Bird continues to struggle in her relationship with her mother (Metcalf).  Continuing to explore new experiences and people, Lady Bird learns about her identity, relationships, and life.

Background

Despite the film being Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut, it appears that she already has a strong grasp on what it takes to perform admirably.  Using what she learned from fellow director Noah Baumbach, she banned smartphones on set, trying to make each setting feel more like 2002, the year in which the film takes place.  She was also incredibly planned and concise, arriving to set an hour before everyone else so that she could put the entire cast and crew at ease in preparation for filming.

Lady Bird is yet another example of A24 getting it right.  Early in there existence as a production studio, they continue to produce stellar (or at the very least fascinating) films and only partner with other studios when it is within their best interests, such as this year’s The Disaster Artist.  They work with a lot of passionate artists, no matter their experience level.  Rather, they surround themselves with intelligent people and business partners to continue to grow the company at a smart pace.

With another crop of great films in 2017, A24 shows no signs of stopping soon.

Beautiful Performances All-Around

Any smaller film with limited spectacle needs stand-out performances in lead roles to become outstanding.  Luckily, Lady Bird has both Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf.  These two combine for an engrossing pair.  Their relationship together is far from perfect.  It’s guarded, hostile, and even confrontational.  But, there’s always an inkling of love and care.

Saoirse Ronan is perfect in the lead role.  Other than dying her hair for the part, she even refrained from wearing makeup so that her acne was visible, allowing her to better portray an immature high-schooler.  Not only is she hilarious, but she becomes this awkward teenager that’s just trying to make sense of it all.  She isn’t the typical outsider that coming of age stories usually depict.  Ronan is strong yet vulnerable.  However, she doesn’t rebel against society just for the hell of it.  Lady Bird is curious, looking for her best path.

Her mother, on the other hand, is proud and strong-willed.  She wants the best for her entire family, even if it means accosting them for the smallest details.  She doesn’t quite know how to express her feelings to her children, making for some complicated relationships that feel incredibly human.

I forsee many nominations in the future for both women.

Subtle Writing Helps Lady Bird Execute its Relatable Themes

The incredible performances continue behind the camera as Greta Gerwig is an absolute star.  Lady Bird may be one of the best written movies of recent years, blending great comedy with deeply affecting dialogue and thematical elements.  Every arc comes together so beautifully.  Each character has their little story that leads to satisfying conclusion in the end.  However, Lady Bird‘s most impressive feat is how authentic each portion feels.  Every young adult or young professional will find something truly divine in this Sacramento-based drama.

Greta Gerwig manages to create a film that is as entertaining on the surface as it is beneath it.  Lady Bird is endearing, but it’s also one of the more thoughtful movies of 2017.  Everything about Lady Bird is unbelievably realistic.  You’ll cut into the middle of conversations between characters hoping for an amazing, grandiose gesture from one of the characters.  But, you’ll leave the scene with something a bit more intelligent that still manages to earn your attention.

At the film’s conclusion, Lady Bird has dual feeling of utter satisfaction but an equal amount of yearning for more.  Gerwig has created characters that are so fully realized in such a short period of time that you would love to see more from them.  Not a moment is wasted in Lady Bird.

Lady Bird Earns its Emotion, Becoming Much More Than a Typical Coming of Age Tale

Gerwig’s script will tug on your heartstrings, but in the best way possible.  Lady Bird contains the rare instance where both the symbolism and the overt character actions are rooted in deep, earnest emotion.  You spend a lifetime with these characters and learn of all their fears and hopes.  When important events occur, you really feel it.

Lady Bird skirts passed the usual coming of age tropes.  There are elements of usual coming of age films within the story, but they aren’t the focus of the film as a whole.  The movie focuses more on internal growth of each character, providing deeply moving moments of drama that are the furthest describer away from manipulative.

Saoirse Ronan is at the center of the emotion.  She powers Lady Bird to one of the most satisfying movie experiences of 2017.

Final Thoughts

Greta Gerwig has proved herself as a tour de force in Hollywood with her solo directorial debut.  Lady Bird is a labor of love, and it comes through with every line of dialogue.  Powered with great performances from Saoirse Ronan and Laura Metcalf, this film is one that stands among the better coming of age tales of recent memory.  For its efforts, it gets an A+.  If you don’t know Saoirse Ronan, get to know her!  She’s going to compete for a few Oscars before her career is over.

Even if this movie isn’t your cup of tea, it will undoubtedly get nominated for a few Oscars, making its viewing even more worthwhile.

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Thanks for reading!  What are your thoughts on Lady Bird?  Comment down below!

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Nick Kush

A current young professional, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society. You can follow Nick at the official MovieBabble Twitter account @MovieBabble_

23 Responses

  1. This just came out recently in the UK so just got around to reading your review but good job with your review! Agree with you on every level. I’ve not reviewed it myself yet, but if you get a chance listen to my podcast co-host review it (nerd-feed.com/2018/03/06/lady-bird-review/).

  2. A passionate review Nick, but my enthusiasm can go as far as your rating for one simple reason. As a coming-of-age tale, it treads on tired ground strewn with more cliches than I want to see (again and again). Acting is brilliant and the film is impossible not to enjoy, but at the end of the day, its just another chic flick.

    • Nick Kush says:

      I can’t say that you’re necessarily wrong there, but I think that it stayed away from the most glaring cliches (not having to be dependent on a guy to be happy for one) that it elevated the film. Plus the symbolism between Lady Bird’s mother and Sacramento was just so beautiful and subtle in my opinion. Sure there’s the dumpy best friend and the awful men that we see a lot in similar films, but it came down to her personal growth (which made it work for me).

      • ….all coming of age films come down to personal growth. What about the life experiences that impede or destroy growth? Why are coming of age films (which I always enjoy) stuck in the same space? Life is not like that.

      • Nick Kush says:

        I would say that the struggle between Lady Bird and her mother impeded her growth throughout the film until she had her epiphany or sorts, no? It seemed like her mother (although it was out of love) would come in at the worst moments to break Lady Bird down when things seemed to be progressing.

        I’m definitely fascinated by your POV since this is the first time I’ve heard it

    • Nick Kush says:

      Also, I’m started to always prepare myself to make a rebuttal whenever I see you like one of my posts ???? I know a comment is coming soon after!

  3. thewsmblog says:

    It is a great movie, highly relevant and relatable. I struggle to believe it measures up to the best coming of age movies in history, but that is a very high bar.

  4. Outstanding review, Nick – seriously one of the best I’ve read in a long while. I just saw “Lady Bird” yesterday and loved every minute of it. I honestly hated to see it end!

    The story is rather subtle, yet incredibly compelling and, as you point out, the characters and their dialogue are so authentic. Ronan and Metcalf gave stellar performances, as did all the supporting cast as well.

  5. Patricia says:

    I grew up in Sacramento (as did Gerwig) and now live in the suburbs. I also adored Ronan in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Those two facts add up to me needing to see this! Thank you for confirming that idea. 😉

  6. I am so looking forward to seeing Lady Bird. I really enjoy reading your reviews, that’s why I would like to nominate you for the Blogger Recognition Award. You can read more about it here: https://cabbageblossomreview.com/2017/11/26/the-blogger-recognition-award/#more-1127.

  7. Writergurlny says:

    Excellent film.

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