Lady Bird: Indie Darling Done Right
Lady Bird is the directing debut of acclaimed actress, Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha, 2012; 20th Century Women, 2016; and Jackie, 2016). Set in California, Lady Bird tells the story of Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson, played by Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn, 2015; Atonement, 2007), a high school senior, who finds her Sacramento, California lifestyle boring, and longs for better things. The film follows her life in high school, as she participates in a school play, gets involved with a boy, and most of all, tries to apply for college while squaring off with her differing mother, played by Laurie Metcalf. Lady Bird is a quirky, Indie film and the cast is mostly great, from top to bottom. In fact, the more I thought about Lady Bird after coming out of the theater, the more I liked it.
Lady Bird is what I would call a quintessential Indie. There’s no direct conflict. There’s no true story. The film just goes about in a “moment in time” scenario. Much of Lady Bird is fairly autobiographical, with the characters feeling like real people, and every scene flows together naturally, even though the story does not follow a specific chain of events.
In terms of acting, Saoirse Ronan gives another terrific performance, and is perfectly cast as the rowdy, rebellious, and sarcastic teenager who wants to be different. Her character, Lady Bird, is like a free spirit, and gets involved in the arts. She is supported by her stubborn mother, Marion. Laurie Metcalf, who plays this character, is likely to win an Oscar for her role, and she deserves it. She’s brilliant as a warm, but seriously strict mother in one of the most realistic feeling parent-child relationships in film I’ve ever seen. Tracy Letts, as Lady Bird’s father, tends to be more understanding of his daughter than his wife, Marion, Lucas Hedges (previously in Three Billboards) is Lady Bird's boyfriend, although a somewhat complicated relationship, and Timothee Chamalet (Hostiles, 2017; Interstellar, 2014) plays Kyle, a musician friend.
As the film opens, we are treated to a quote by Joan Didion regarding Christmas, which was timely given its November release. In regards to the Director Gerwig's style, there’s a lot of nice close-ups and straight camera pans in the film. In particular, I quite like how Lady Bird and the theater class she’s in (I took theater in high school and college, so I can relate), perform a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and the way these scenes are directed, and most of the scenes in the film, is very well-done. For a first time director, she did an admirable job.
Jon Brion’s musical score is also very nice, featuring a solo guitar that sounds like a harp. There is also some sneaky sounding music used during moments in which Lady Bird knows she’s about to do something that a lot of people probably won’t like. This complements the film very well.Lady Bird is as independent a film as it gets. It’s not trying to be anything extraordinary, or Oscar-bait, or even anything extraordinary. It’s just trying to tell a simple story. The fact that it has received as much acclaim and awards as it has, is a testament to its high quality. This film is like a gleeful girl that sneaks up on you, and surprises you in different ways in every conceivable fashion. I can’t recommend it enough.
Now playing in Hanover at The Nugget Theater, Monday - Friday 4:30 and 7:00 PM, Friday and Saturday 9:10 PM, and Saturday and Sunday Matinee at 2:00 PM.