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Review: Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig has been one of my favorite talents during her Hollywood career, with her writing and starring effort in Frances Ha making for one of my all time favorite films. Gerwig continues her evolution as a first-time director with Lady Bird, which is easily among one of the year’s best films so far.

Lady Bird follows Christine aka “Lady Bird”, a teenager growing up in Sacramento with big dreams of going to New York. The film follows her through her senior year, grappling with dilemmas of young adulthood while wrestling with her passionate mom at every turn.

Coming of age films are a dime a dozen, but only the truly special ones imbue a level of authenticity that becomes life-like. Lady Bird is one of those films, with its emotional undercurrent likely to stick with audiences long after viewing it.

I understand this will sound hyperbolic, but Greta Gerwig’s directorial effort is one of the most assured debuts I have ever seen. Gerwig’s confidence is clear from the opening frame, as she and cinematographer Sam Levy craft an indie with some real visual flare. All of the shot choices here are perfect, with quite a few emotional moments ringing even truer through an effective shot. I also credit Gerwig for her masterful handle of tone, with the balance between humor and dramatic heft being perfect.

Gerwig’s screenplay is equally impressive. Lady Bird tells its story less through traditional narrative, but more so from different snapshots through Lady Bird’s senior year. This method of storytelling proved to be very effective and emotionally profound at points, showing life’s constant movement and change that sweeps us up along the way. Gerwig also has a great comedic touch, with this film having some zinging lines that will go down as some of the year’s funniest bits.

Performance-wise, everyone brings their A-game in this talented ensemble. I am positive both Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf will receive Oscar nominations for their phenomenal work here. Ronan continues to be a talent beyond her years (already has two Oscar nominations at 23 years old), rendering Lady Bird as a passionate and endlessly relatable teen. Metcalf is astonishing as well, capturing the hardships of being a mother with a performance is equally parts gut-wrenching and genuine.

I can’t speak enough about just how emotionally relatable and genuine Lady Bird is. The mother-daughter dynamic here is truly superb, capturing the constant tug-and-war of two people who love each other dearly, but can’t quite figure out how to help each other. The duality between Lady Bird’s desire for a better life and her families depression that they can’t provide that is heartbreaking, with Gerwig crafting these struggles with an honest eye. This film explores a lot of relatable ideas about young adulthood, such as losing your innocence, moving from home, and trying to find your place, with all of it being equally authentic and moving.

Lady Bird is a masterclass in storytelling and filmmaking by Greta Gerwig, crafting a coming of age film that echoes some of the genre’s best entries. I will be rooting hard for this film come Oscar season, as its certainly deserving of some attention.

Grade: A 

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