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Lady Bird (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

LADY BIRD

Director: Greta Gerwig
Writer: Greta Gerwig
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts

Lady Bird is probably one of the best “coming of age” films released in recent times. Greta Gerwig’s Direction and Writing is wonderfully executed and applied to make the movie relatable and realistic. Set in 2002, the story is based in Sacramento, California and is mostly focused on the title character “Lady Bird” played by Saoirse Ronan who is in her late teens and is desperate to apply to a college in New York as an escape from what looks like a town where nothing much happens. I’ve never been to Sacramento, so I can’t really comment on the place but the character of Lady Bird wants more out of life.

The characters is fleshed out and are written with great investment, meaning you can relate to them individually. Saoirse Ronan is brilliant in the lead role. I first saw her play the role of Briony Tallis back in 2007’s Atonement when she was 13 years old and knew there was a star in the making. Here she plays Lady Bird McPherson and although experiences the usual “coming of age” obstacles at that age she portrays the character convincingly and without the usual clichés. Between Rohan’s performance and Gerwig’s direction, the actress’s performance and the way she is written is a great collaboration between both of them and you see that throughout the film in all of the characters to be fair.

Laurie Metcalf is a wonderful actress who I have admired for many years and although is mostly remembered for her comedic performances is great as the long struggling mother to Lady Bird, Marion McPherson. Marion is reserved about her feelings and executes this so realistically that when Lady Bird is frustrated by her Mother, you (the audience) feel that frustration too. There is something of an emotional wedge between the Mother and Daughter and both Metcalf and Rohan understand this in their scenes together.

Tracy Letts plays the father Larry and is Lady Bird’s go to emotionally. I understood their relationship and his character instantaneously through Letts almost calming and understanding character. I haven’t seen much of the actors performances I’m afraid and although is in The Big Short from 2015 I haven’t seen him in anything else although I will be seeing his next film The Post shortly.

Supporting the family unit is a series of friends of Lady Bird’s in Lucas Hedges who plays her first  boyfriend Danny O’Neill. Danny is somewhat a dark horse in this film and although I don’t want to spoil the characters outcome although it’s pretty obviously once you see where this characters developing and going in the story I enjoyed Hedges performance of the character and sympathised with him. Hedges is a great young actor who I thought was great in my last reviewed film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and although had a small role was memorable. The same can be said about Lady Bird’s second boyfriend played by Timothée Chalamet as Kyle Scheible. His character is more cynical and deeper than Danny and has some interesting views on the world (especially his thoughts on mobile phones are used as tracking devices by the government…remember this is set in 2002) lastly Lady Bird’s best friend is Julie Steffans played by Beanie Feldstein. Julie and Lady Bird’s relationship is typical of two teenagers in that both of them are outsiders to the rest of their school and share an interest in drama. Feldstein is mostly known for her TV work and to be honest and doesn’t have too much to do in the film and really only serves as a device to bring Lady Bird back from the clutches of spiralling into a seedier life with Kyle and his friends.

I enjoyed the cinematography and direction in this film and I felt the way it was presented gave us a good idea on what life is like for a seventeen year old girl with aspirations and her financially struggling family in Sacramento, California. Lady Bird could easily have been a run of the mill drama movie with the usual clichés. In fact, Gerwig manages to adapt a simple storyline and engage her audience with not knowing what is going to happen next or where we are going to end up with these characters. I didn’t exactly go into this movie with high expectations, nor did I go into it thinking this was going to be boring. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the film though and it’s one I think I can honestly say that I will revisit again in the near future as I enjoyed the storyline, the characters and the investment that was put in by the filmmakers. Highly Recommended.

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