First Hit: A superb film because of the acting and the embracing of learning how to love, hometown, family, and oneself.
Thus far, in her short actor’s life, Saoirse Ronan has been the best young actress I’ve seen on film. Regardless of the type of role; as Briony Tallis in Atonement (young girl who changes the lives of several people), Hanna in Hanna (full on action), Agatha in The Grand Budapest Hotel (surrealist comedy), Eilis in Brooklyn (Irish immigrant) for which I believed she had the best performance of 2015, and now as a young coming of age girl in Sacramento. She's had about 20 roles and her impact is astonishing.
Here, she’s named herself “Lady Bird” as her given name because, as she explains, "it is her given name because she gave it to herself." Her real name is Christine McPherson. Yes, she’s a kooky young high schooler who has a pressed relationship with her mom, Marion McPherson (Laurie Metcalf). There is a scene in a store where they are buying Lady Bird a dress for a special event and they are arguing. Back and forth and on and on, then mom grabs a dress from the rack and holds it up, and Lady Bird just switches to loving her mom and the dress in a heartbeat.
Her mom is always worried about money and uses passive aggressive behavior to try to control and demean Lady Bird. Her father Larry (Tracy Letts) is a quiet and kind man who has a great relationship with Lady Bird and works hard at keeping the peace in the family.
We follow Lady Bird’s antics in class, her relationship with her best friend Julie Steffans (Beanie Feldstein), her first real boyfriend Danny O’Neill (Lucas Hedges), her second boyfriend, cool band guy, Kyle Scheible (Timothee Chalamet) and an attempt to have a friendship with the coolest girl at school Jenna Walton (Odeya Rush).
We watch her bamboozle her teachers and Sister Sarah Joan (Lois Smith) whom she tricks at one point. Lady Bird lies a lot. She tells whoppers and small white lies.
The sets in Sacramento, the bridge, river, Tower tower (was once the home of Tower Records) and the various neighborhoods of fine elegant homes and small track homes wonderfully registered on film. Each of them shot beautifully and lovingly.
I laughed out-loud many times and I cried in the many touching moments, especially when Lady Bird, in New York, calls her mom to tell her that her daughter, Christine, loves her.
Ronan is superb. She makes the part come alive, fully believable and does it effortlessly. Metcalf was extraordinary as the mother. When she delivers the line, my mother was an abusive alcoholic, it’s perfect. It sets up a nugget to her behavior for the whole film. Letts is absolutely a wonder. His soft caring and, at times, enabling tone was based on sweet intent. Chalamet is oddly familiar as the brooding boy who attracts people with mood more than substance. Hedges is fantastic as the guy everyone likes who is hiding a secret. The scene talking to Lady Bird when he breaks down and cries is powerful. Feldstein is outstanding as the friend who gets shunned and then embraced again. Rush is great as the cool rich girl, she plays it well. Smith is excellent as the nun who cares about the kids and takes being pranked amusingly. Greta Gerwig wrote and directed this film. It was a fantastic effort and filled with a sense that this film was written from both her heart and experience.
Overall: I fully enjoyed this well-crafted film.