Finally hitting the kinos several months after its general release in most other territories, Lady Bird sees Greta Gerwig make the transition from actor to auteur with a nostalgic coming-of-age story about a creative young woman trying to escape her small town and find her place in the world. While alarm bells could have been ringing about the Queen of Quirk let loose on the saturated genre that frequently deals with self-indulgent, semi-autobiographical tales of growing up as an underappreciated creative voice, what a delight it is to report that Lady Bird is nothing short of a minor triumph. Gerwig’s debut film hits the sweet spot between personal and universal. It feels both specific and thrillingly relatable, and excitingly avoids the twee pitfalls that usually come with slice-of-life comedies that tackle the growing pains inherent to the brink of adulthood.
Most of all, the film thrives on its performances, reconfirming Saoirse Ronan as one of the most magnetic screen presences of her generation, as well as offering Laurie Metcalf a career high as the titular character’s overworked and practically-minded mother who struggles to deal with her child’s seemingly impractical wishes. The tumultuous mother-daughter relationship gives the film its affecting emotional core and Gerwig’s script deftly captures this particularly complex family dynamic.
Whether or not Lady Bird fully deserved its somewhat overhyped reputation as the best reviewed film of all time on Rotten Tomatoes when it first hit theatres, or even its Oscar nomination for Best Picture (as opposed to the more-than-merited best actress and best supporting actress nods), this debut does decisively announce the arrival of a promising new filmmaking talent. It made Gerwig only the fifth woman in Oscar history to be nominated for Best Director, and, with any luck, not only will that depressing statistic grow, but we also won’t have to wait too long to see what she does next in the director’s chair.
Lady Bird | Directed by Greta Gerwig (US 2017) with Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf . Starts April 19
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