Star – Saoirse Ronan
Genre – Comedy
Run Time – 1 hr 34 minutes
Certificate – 18R
Country – U.S.A.
Oscars – 5 Nominations
Awards – 107 Wins & 97 Nominations
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So Lady Bird (2017), the first film to be directed by Greta Gerwin, for me the next Woody Allen, a brilliantly talented young actress, writer, producer and her maiden directed film rightfully garnering five Oscar nominations. It didn’t win but she will one day and so will Ladybird star Saoirse Ronan, her third Oscar nomination here for Best Actress, Atonement (2008) and Brooklyn (2016) the others. Both are delightfully smart and sassy young women and you need to seek out their fledgling back catalogue, especially women, Greta your champion.
Ladybird temporarily broke the record held by Toy Story 2 (1999) of the best-reviewed movie of all time on Rotten Tomatoes (163 reviews, all “fresh”), with 196 “fresh” reviews straight, getting its first “rotten” review after 197 reviews posted. It maintains a 100% rating for Top Critics. Black Panther, of course, stole that record this year. Neither is worth the hype but two decent movies all the same that will make most critics top tens.
Saoirse Ronan … Lady Bird McPherson
Laurie Metcalf … Marion McPherson
Tracy Letts … Larry McPherson
Lucas Hedges … Danny O’Neill
Timothée Chalamet … Kyle Scheible
Beanie Feldstein … Julie Steffans
Lois Smith … Sister Sarah Joan
Stephen McKinley Henderson … Father Leviatch
Odeya Rush … Jenna Walton
Jordan Rodrigues … Miguel McPherson
Marielle Scott … Shelly Yuhan
John Karna … Greg Anrue
Bayne Gibby … Casey Kelly
Laura Marano … Diana Greenway
Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is a feisty senior at a Catholic high school in Sacramento. She dreams of being a writer and longs to attend a prestigious college in “a city with culture” to escape her backwaters town. But her hard working middle-class family is struggling financially, her mother (Laurie Metcalf) constantly reminding her titular daughter she is ungrateful for what she has but torn that she can’t give her those Ivy League dreams her brain deserves.
Lady Bird and her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) decide to join their school theater program for a bit of fun and self expression, where Lady Bird quickly falls in love with handsome but ‘foppy’ leading man Danny (Lucas Hedges). Ladybird’s mom sees the relationship as a chance for some networking as Danny’s parents are wealthy and dad Larry McPherson (Tracy Letts) has just been laid off and he has become depressed. Ladybird is cynically dispatched to Danny’s parents Thanksgiving instead of her own to begin the seduction, unaware dad has been fired.
Their relationship ends when Lady Bird catches an unfortunate moment. Depressed, she takes a job at a coffee shop to forget Danny, where she meets dreamy floppy fringed musician Kyle (Timothée Chalamet). They begin dating. One of the popular girls at the school, Jenna (Odeya Rush), knows Kyle and Ladybird begins to hangout with the cool crowd, gradually deserting her best mate Julie as prom approaches. When she is shortlisted for a top East Coast school these are the people that she will meet there so surely this is what she always wanted? Time to make some choices to whom she really is.
Ladybird is a film Greta Gerwin has been slowly exploding inside waiting to make, a starburst of ideas and energy and the acting talent lighting up the cinema for her canvas. But, as with all of these recommended and lorded American indie comedies, the laughs are subtle and more about the emotion and angst than the joyousness of life. Critics seem to love that stuff.
It’s very much a film for, and aimed at, women and no doubt a lot of Greta Gerwin’s personal experience of being that intelligent titular young determined teenager in here somewhere. She really is a razor sharp talent, yet another one from Saturday Night Live. Boy that show turns out the talent!
For its $10 million budget (not bad funding for your first move) it did $78 million back, the power of an Oscar nomination. It was released on December 1st and so may have targeted the Oscars but sill worth the hype. I don’t agree it’s something particular standout and special though in the genre and there are better out there. It reminds me of the hype for Juno. Worth a look though just for Miss Ronan’s performance. She is a great actress and even appeared in the film with genuine acme for authenticity, the studio lights bringing out her skin but insisting no make up to hide them. Young teen girls can relate to those things and so very much a film about women’s anxieties.
Imdb.com –7.5 /10.0 (156.324votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 99% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 94% critic’s approval