This is a movie that most men will like but all women will love and appreciate.
Lady Bird is a film that comes to life under the guiding touch of Writer/Director Greta Gerwig. This accomplished actress brings a magical film to the big screen in her directorial debut.
Taking place in Sacramento, California in 2002, this is an unvarnished movie focusing on a family trying to survive in that economically turbulent time. Saoirse Ronan follows up last year’s phenomenal performance in Brooklyn with her portrayal of Christine McPherson, a high school senior trying to determine if there is a difference between love and attention. Insisting on being called Lady Bird, she has a love/hate relationship with a mother who in many ways is her mirror image.
Laurie Metcalf gives an Oscar-worthy performance as Lady Bird’s mom, a nurse working tirelessly to hold her family together given that her husband (the gifted Tracy Letts) has lost his job. She is a strong-willed woman, and the interaction between her and her daughter provides some of the most engaging moments you will see in any film this year.
Lady Bird feels isolated in Sacramento, particularly when she has to pass by magnificent homes of various friends while going to her modest house located on what she dismissively describes as “the other side of the tracks.” Wrestling with the desire to flee Sacramento and attend any college in New York City, she is forced to reject her first boyfriend, Danny O’Neill (Lucas Hedges), after she discovers that he is gay. Young Mr. Hedges is a pleasure to watch as he demonstrates the gigantic contribution he made in last year’s Manchester by the Sea.
What makes this film so appealing and heartwarming is Ms. Gerwig’s ability to focus her camera on family life that is familiar to all of us. While trying to find new employment, Mr. Letts seeks a way to finance his daughter’s college dreams. Ms. Metcalf pulls no punches as she chides her daughter to face the reality that a higher education is only available in a local college.
Lady Bird’s struggles to find some meaning when she profoundly regrets rejecting here longtime caring but somewhat overweight best friend (Beanie Feldstein) in pursuit of friends with greater style and wealth. She learned the valuable lesson that forms the foundation of life, namely that your best friends have the biggest hearts.
This movie proved to be a marvelous experience for me, and I think it will have particular meaning for women.