Lady Bird takes us back to Sacramento, 2002, where cell phones were being phased into the mainstream and people still put cassette tapes into cars (wild times, am I right?). The titular seventeen-year-old character of Lady Bird, also begrudgingly known as Christine (Saorise Ronan), is starting to come of age, exploring all the wonders and perils that being a teenager has to offer. She explores sex and drugs, while rebelling against everything holding her life together and experiencing high school with her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein).
It’s warm and affectionate, but fuelled with strong emotion and deep humanity. The characters are fully realised without showing off the fact that there’s been subtle development of each and every one of them. Gerwig’s script is fast, funny and heartfelt. She finds a perfect tonal balance of humour and drama, where neither one out-weights the other and they quite often find themselves going hand in hand. A perfect moment from the trailer, featuring Lady Bird and Marion unhappily shopping for dresses, demonstrates this flawlessly.
Not a moment is wasted in this utter masterpiece of a movie, and whenever it’s going, you’ll be unable to resist. Yes, it’s a brisk 90 minutes, but every second is used effectively, and everyone on screen displays a tremendous amount of talent. Saorise Ronan has never been better, and that’s saying a lot given the fact that, at just 23, she’s managed to snatch up three Academy Award nominations. Her portrayal of Lady Bird is so genuine and so enthralling, matched by all-round terrific performances from everyone in her immediate family, including Tracy Letts as the world’s nicest dad. He’s the dad all dads aspire to be.
There’s a lot to love in Lady Bird, and love it I did. It’s a fantastically earnest and hilarious depiction of life in Sacramento; accessible for anyone who’s ever been a teenager. Gerwig’s career as an actor has gotten off to a brilliant start, but it’s her turn as a writer-director that may be the thing she’s truly remembered for, and for good reason. The bar’s set high for any film she’ll follow this up with, but I, for one, cannot wait to see what’s next.
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