Greta Gerwig is one of the modern queens of the independent film. I don’t know if she has even starred in anything main stream yet. She is like Lena Dunham, if Lena Dunham didn’t have Girls as a breakaway success.
I knew it wouldn’t be long before she broke out of just starring and writing into the directing game, but little did I know that she actually directed a movie in 2008, before I knew who she was. That is how indie Greta Gerwig is, people. Something called Nights and Weekends, that she starred in, wrote, and directed. It didn’t really get noticed, and so it took almost a decade later before she tried again.
This brings us to Lady Bird, a probably pseudo autobiographical story about her growing up, but this time she isn’t starring in it at all! Just focusing on the directing and the writing. Looks like Gerwig has grown up after all, allowing someone else to get some of that indie spotlight love.
Although from the looks of it, Gerwig could have played both of these roles.
Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is a young girl, just 17, a newly senior in high school, and she needs to make her mark. She lives in a poor family, with an overburdened mom (Laurie Metcalf) and a chill and happy father (Tracy Letts). Also in their small home is her older and more pierced brother (Jordan Rodrigues) and his girlfriend.
Lady Bird, who decided that is her new name several years prior, goes to a private Catholic school thanks to a scholarship. Most of the kids there are rich, except her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein). Lady Bird wants to get out of Sacramento, a hell on Earth to her. She wants to go to the East Coast, where there is some culture. A nice liberal arts place. Except she is poor, she doesn’t make good grades, and doesn’t have discernible talents really.
Guess she will just have to experience life on her own before then. Finally dating, maybe having some of that sex, maybe living out her other wild fantasies while she has the chance. Screw everyone else, Lady Bird is in it for herself for once!
Also starring Stephen Henderson, Bob Stephenson, Odeya Rush, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Lois Smith, and Jake McDorman.
Apparently these dreams involve a house with shutters and freedom.
Oh, I only guessed it was maybe autobiographical, but honestly a lot of elements in this just scream out Gerwig Gerwig Gerwig. Ronan isn’t playing Lady Bird, she is just playing Gerwig, a free spirited individual who is bigger than her body and station in life. Lady Bird eventually grows up into the character that Gerwig plays in Damsels in Distress, after she has moved on, gained that confidence, and is ready to inspire others.
So Ronan is acting as Gerwig in this movie. Now that it is obvious, we can all move on and just examine the rest of the film.
The movie itself is very funny, with more than one eccentric cast member. I don’t even know how I feel about Chalamet’s character, but I am very glad he is in there, while enraged at him almost every single time. This is only the second film I have seen Hedges in (After Manchester By The Sea), and thankfully his characters are very different so he can show some range. And Metcalf is downright stunning as the mom character. Sort of like a more intense Lois from Malcolm in the Middle, who also has less assholes to deal with.
The film lives and dies with Ronan, who of course delivers everything. It is great again to see her doing such different roles, from the recent Brooklyn and The Grand Budapest Hotel. If I had any issues, it did feel like it just went on a bit too long, starting to tell a story that didn’t feel as necessary.
Overall still a solid comedy, a good coming of age story, and a bunch of quirky weirdos from 2002 ready to entertain.
3 out of 4.