DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Lady Bird Movie Review

Lady Bird (2017) movie poster Lady Bird

Theatrical Release: November 3, 2017 / Running Time: 93 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Greta Gerwig

Cast: Saoirse Ronan (Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson), Laurie Metcalf (Marion McPherson), Tracy Letts (Larry McPherson), Lucas Hedges (Danny O'Neill), Timothée Chalamet (Kyle Scheible), Beanie Feldstein (Julie Steffans), Lois Smith (Sister Sarah Joan), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Father Leviatch), Odeya Rush (Jenna Walton), Jordan Rodrigues (Miguel McPherson), Marielle Scott (Shelly Yuhan), Jake McDornan (Mr. Bruno), John Karna (Greg Anrue), Bayne Gibby (Casey Kelly), Laura Marano (Diana Greenway)


Over the course of the past ten years, Greta Gerwig has established herself as one of the most respected actresses in her age bracket. The acclaimed performances are numerable and are perhaps led by her turns in two comedies she co-wrote with director Noah Baumbach, Frances Ha and Mistress America. Gerwig, 34, has yet to have one big project that people know her for. She lent support to a couple of last year's Oscar nominees (Jackie, 20th Century Women), held leading lady duties in a mainstream comedy that failed to launch (the 2011 Arthur remake starring Russell Brand),
and would have starred in a "How I Met Your Mother" spin-off if that "How I Met Your Dad" pilot got picked up. Interestingly, the film that could -- and should -- make Gerwig a household name doesn't even feature her in front of the camera. It's Lady Bird, Gerwig's first film as solo writer-director and one of 2017's very best to date.

Undoubtedly influenced by her experiences with Baumbach, who is also her boyfriend of several years, Gerwig's directing debut is autobiographical in nature. It tells of the 2002-03 school year for Sacramento teenager Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan). A high school senior, Christine prefers to go by "Lady Bird", a name she gave to herself. She attends an all-girls Catholic school, where she doesn't exactly stand out for any good or bad reason. Hoping to attend a college on the East Coast, Lady Bird is encouraged by one of the staff nuns to audition for the school's musical. She does, gets in, and develops a crush on Danny (Manchester by the Sea's Lucas Hedge), a kind redhead with a secret.

Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) and her best friend Julie Steffans (Beanie Feldstein) marvel at a nice house in Greta Gerwig's "Lady Bird."

Lady Bird is not driven by plot any more than one's senior year of high school is. Our heroine attends Thanksgiving dinner at the dream home of Danny's grandmother. She also butts heads with her mother (Laurie Metcalf), who wants her to be her best, but doesn't always convey that in the clearest or kindest of ways. After things don't work out with Danny, Lady Bird meets Kyle (Timothée Chalamet), another student from the affiliated all-boys Catholic school who plays in a rock band and fancies himself a philosopher of sorts. This relationship leads to some sexual discovery.

But there is no need to detail this, because Lady Bird is much better than plot synopsis would indicate. Sure, there are tons of coming-of-age films and tons of movies set in high school. This one doesn't care about that tradition or about trying to crack some Best High School Movies list in Entertainment Weekly ten years from now. Gerwig is only interested in sharing and dramatizing her personal experiences and she does so in a way that is as effective as even Baumbach's best, complete with taut editing that maximizes the humor.

There is honesty, humanity, and specificity that all distinguish Lady Bird. It reminds you of certain good movies without generating déjà vu. Lady Bird has a Rushmore postcard on her wall and her age and outlook on life make her the perfect person to appreciate that Wes Anderson name-maker. There are also bits of John Hughes; playing the protagonist's father, who is secretly wrestling with depression while trying and failing to keep the family financially afloat, Tracy Letts evokes Paul Dooley in Sixteen Candles. Some will see some of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody's Juno in it, or even Superbad, as Jonah Hill's sister Beanie Feldstein plays Lady Bird's chubby, funny best friend.

"Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) tries on a dress for her senior prom with her mom Marion (Laurie Metcalf) looking on.

But there's nothing derivative or calculated about Gerwig's film. There is a purity, a candor, and a casual approach to storytelling that all make this a palatable and delicious slice of life. It helps to have gone to a single-sex Catholic high school and a New York college around the time depicted and to have grown up with songs like Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's "Tha Crossroads" and Dave Matthews Band's "Crash Into Me." But there's also a timelessness and universality to the emotions

of a child transitioning into adulthood, whether you're recalling your own experiences or can relate to the portrayal of the parents, who are stressing about money but also willing to pay for a private school education.

Lady Bird is a film best enjoyed with no expectations. That will become difficult once the critical buzz that met it at its Telluride Film Festival premiere expands nationwide along with the film and thrusts it into awards season conversation. Lady Bird is a small, personal work and historically those kind of movies have not fared exceptionally well at the Oscars. Then again, Lady Bird's distributor A24 just won Best Picture with a small, personal work called Moonlight, so it isn't unreasonable to expect this film could at least draw multiple major nominations the way that Juno did ten years ago. As a member of the Online Film Critics Society, I certainly will consider it in all four of those categories and Metcalf in Supporting Actress for her fine work. Ronan, so critical to the success of Brooklyn two years ago, is still convincing as a teenager and marvelous at evoking sympathy without being showy.

It may seem outmatched alongside Dunkirk and -- hopefully not -- Darkest Hour, big movies from established filmmakers. But like A24's other contender The Florida Project, which will similarly face questions of being "too small for the Oscars", Lady Bird manages to move to a much greater degree with story, characters, and emotion than those seemingly tailor-made for Oscar period war dramas do.

Whether or not it earns the recognition it deserves, Lady Bird does deserve an audience and you owe it to yourself and to the movie to give it that.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: The Florida ProjectWonderstruckThe Killing of a Sacred Deer
Co-Written by Greta Gerwig: Frances HaMistress America
High School: JunoEdge of SeventeenThe Princess DiariesThe Breakfast ClubFerris Bueller's Day OffSuperbad
Saoirse Ronan: BrooklynViolet & DaisyLost RiverCity of EmberThe Grand Budapest Hotel
Laurie Metcalf: Balloon Farm | Tracy Letts: IndignationImperiumThe Big Short

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed November 10, 2017.

Text copyright 2017 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2017 A24 and IAC Films. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.