Sensational performances, a deftly crafted narrative, and fantastic direction are just some reasons why ‘Lady Bird’ is one of the best films of 2017.
The film centers around Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) and her final year of high school. She’s being steered by her mother (played by Laurie Metcalf) to attend a local college in Sacramento, but she wants to go to an east coast school. Her dad (Tracy Letts) and mom (Laurie Metcalf) work extremely hard to send her to private school, but Ronan’s character seems to want more than this education has to offer. The more she pulls away from her mother, the more their relationship strains.
Ronan is the perfect person to step in for Greta Gerwig, who handles the direction wonderfully. She brings such effortless depth and complexity to the film (much like she did in Brooklyn). While Lady Bird wants more out of life, Ronan’s character doesn’t get along with her mother. It’s almost as if she speaks a different language than her – something that certainly feels true in mother/daughter relationships. Ronan projects this angst not so much in what’s said but in her body language. A slumped shoulder, a dismissive glance, and exasperation add a level of authenticity. Ronan is able to project real pain on the screen. As much her character doesn’t want to listen to her mother, she desperately wants approval. This is proven during one of the film’s final moments when Lady Bird is willing to forgo her choice of school.
Metcalf gives an award-worthy performance as Lady Bird’s mother. As the matriarch of the family, she has to balance taking care of the kids, working long hours at the hospital, and providing support to a husband who appears to have lost his way. Her relationship with Ronan’s character is at the center of the film. While Metcalf’s character struggles to understand Ronan’s character, she is conflicted. Mrs. Macpherson wants her relationship with Lady Bird to be so much more than it is. There were six different instances in the film where she tries to reach out and touch Lady Bird on the shoulder to show compassion/understanding only to pull back immediately. It’s these nuances that make her performance special.
Is there Greta Gerwing can’t do? She constructed a wonderfully balanced narrative that was partially a love letter to her roots in California and an all too real look at the pressures of growing up. Her words are heartful and will resonate with audiences. As a director, Gerwig manages to get the very best of out of her entire cast. More importantly, she has a keen understanding of pacing and allows this narrative to build slowly.
Sam Levy’s cinematography manages to capture the beauty of Sacremento while not missing a beat during the films fiery moments.
Loved how the film depicts the complexities of parenting as well. If anything, this movie teaches us that nothing is clearcut.
There’s a reason why Lady Bird is currently sitting at 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s one of the best releases of 2017. Ronan and Metcalf’s performances are a joy to witness, and Gerwig’s narrative is just perfect. Lady Bird will undoubtedly be on everyone’s mind during award season and should be your first choice the next time you go to the movies.