Greta Gerwig has always been a very underrated actress, especially for her work in indie films such as “Frances Ha” or “20th Century Women.” She’s also the type of girl you just want to have coffee with and just talk about…really, anything cool.
But now, she’s getting behind the camera, rather than in front of it, in her solo directorial and screenwriting debut, taking a realistic look at adolescence in “Lady Bird.”Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is a 17-year-old girl attending a Catholic school who always dreamt of moving away from her home in Sacramento, California in order to go to college. The tough thing is, she doesn’t have perfect grades and everything surrounding her mother and father (Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts) is…not the best. She also has to balance everything from romances to trying to discover what type of person she wants to be during her senior year. The fact that Gerwig was be directing a new film was already something to get excited by. Though she doesn't act in the film, “Lady Bird” could still be something that the indie crowd will fall in love with. I have to say, “Lady Bird” is a film that everybody should see by the end of the year. It’s an absolutely heartwarming story. Ronan is really coming into her own with these more mature roles that get better with each movie she’s in. Christine is one of the most fascinating characters of the year. She’s easily relatable to someone around her age as a kid who just wants to get out of this city. She turns out to be a character that you really feel for by the end of the film. From her breakthrough performance from “Atonement” to now, Ronan is incredible, and her performance as “Lady Bird,” (Christine gives herself that name,) is my favorite role from her. Is this another Oscar nomination for her career? I hope so. Gerwig’s screenplay might be one of my favorites of the year: there wasn’t a single line that felt unrealistic. The film takes place in the early 2000s, since the script is somewhat based on Gerwig’s life, and it’s certainly the type of film she would be in. Some of Christine’s lines will be some of the most memorable quotes by the end of the year. Gerwig does a tremendous job of having a consistent blend of humor and drama without overshadowing either one. This script really reminded me of last year’s “The Edge of Seventeen” in the way it’s told. Even for a coming-of-age film, this does have a tendency to go into a few minor clichés, but you can look past those because the film as a whole feels very fresh. It goes out of its way to be different and unique. Our main character not only has to deal with the stressful problems with her parents, but with her best friend Julie (portrayed excellently by Beanie Feldstein) and with trying to make everything happen in her life smoothly. She has the occasional romantic interest, falling for the kind theater guy Danny (Lucas Hedges, “Manchester By the Sea”) and bad boy musician Kyle (Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name”) in a rather typical teenager-movie way. The relationship between Ronan and Metcalf felt like the most realistic movie relationship between mother and daughter in the past few years. You can see there are qualities that they don’t like about each other, but deep inside, they both love one another. That’s what the film is really about: the core relationship between the two of them and the mother letting Christine out into the world. Speaking of Metcalf, she was outstanding. This was the best work she’s done since “Roseanne” and she should get a Supporting Actress nomination. As for music, I'm not a fan of Dave Matthews Band, but "Crash into Me" isn't that bad of a song. In the end, “Lady Bird” was everything I expected. It was unpredictable with its honest storytelling, being a love letter to Sacramento and the process of growing up. It's well-acted from everybody, without a single flaw. Fingers crossed that this will get some Oscar recognition, because this shouldn’t be ignored around award season. Honestly, this is one of the best movies of the year, and will be talked about in the near future as a classic. Can’t wait to see what’s next for Gerwig in the directing chair, because this is one of the best directorial debuts from an actor-turned-director. “Lady Bird” is a wonderful and uplifting coming-of-age dramedy with Greta Gerwig’s fantastic writing/direction and a blissful Saoirse Ronan performance. Grade: A-