Finally, we’ve officially entered “Terrific Movie Season” (TMS)! My favorite movie of 2017 (so far) is the recently-released “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” but almost as wonderful is the comedy/drama “Lady Bird,” written and directed by the very talented Greta Gerwig. (Plus, the movie is rumored to be partly auto-biographical.) This film is a MUST SEE! In addition to the intelligent and humorous screenplay, the film is anchored by AAW performances by Saoirse (unbelievably pronounced Sur-Sha) Ronan as Christine – a.k.a. “Lady Bird” McPherson – and Laurie Metcalf, who plays Lady Bird’s mother, Marion. Ronan is especially amazing, but I think this is McDormand’s year.
The film takes place in 2002. Christine is a Senior at a Sacramento Catholic high school. She has given herself the name “Lady Bird,” so she considers this to be her given name. She wants to escape her circumscribed life in Sacramento and go to an East Coast college, but her mother is strongly opposed to this desire. Marion wants Lady Bird to go to a cheaper state school, such as UC Davis. Her mother sites economics, but Lady Bird could easily get college loans, so there are obviously other reasons for her mother’s objection. Marion loves Lady Bird, but she is critical, demanding, and passive-aggressive. They get “into it” frequently, and these scenes are fabulous. (There are few movies with such an interesting mother-daughter relationship.) This volatile family situation, however, is tempered by her father, Larry (Tracy Letts).
Lady Bird negotiates the typical high school senior issues, such as exploring her emerging sexuality and fluid high school friendships, but what makes it really special is that all the scenes “ring true.” It’s a great high school movie, ranking right up there with “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and last year’s “The Edge of Seventeen.” Gerwig also gets excellent performances from Beanie Feldstein as Lady Bird’s best friend, Julie, and two male romantic interests (Lucas Hedges as Danny O’Neill and Timothee Chalamett as Kyle Sheible).
The bottom line is that “Lady Bird” soars!