“Lady Bird:” Does It Live Up To All The Hype?

By Scott Kurland

Film: Lady Bird

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Lucas Hedges, Beanie Feldstein, Tracy Letts, and Laurie Metcalf

Rated R

Director: Greta Gerwig

I don’t know how many of you, dear readers, follow rottentomatoes.com; a site created for the people by the critics. If not, something amazing happened. A perfect 100% rating is a difficult thing to achieve but somehow, two of this years films "Get out" and “Lady Bird,” managed it. For at least three weeks, "Lady Bird" basked in the glow of that 100% until, finally, one critic gave it a negative review bringing it down to 99%. Still 99% is nothing to sniff at-its downright impressive. The only film to do that (with 135 reviews was “Toy Story 2” back in 1999. Does “Lady Bird” live up to the 100%* (now 99%) review rating? Let’s find out shall we?

                Saoirse Ronan stars as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson. Lady Bird is a moniker given to Christine by Christine. Lady Bird lives in Sacramento, CA where she encounters conflicts on a somewhat daily basis. Her desperate search to discover where she belongs brings her to the conclusion that she’d be able to find her artistic voice at a college on the East Coast. As this emotional struggle is going on, Lady Bird must deal with the trials and tribulations of finishing out her senior year and dealing with her overprotective mother (Laurie Metcalf). Will Lady Bird find her way skyward or will she plunge head-first down the wrong path?

This movie deserves all the hype. Greta Gerwig’s script is well developed, structured, and executed. If you’re unfamiliar with Gerwig, she’s a fantastic actress who has worked with everyone- from Noah Bambauch to Woody Allen. Now it’s her time to be in the directors chair and she hits her first film out of the park. Gerwig sets the film in 2002, a time when she herself was a senior in high school.“Lady Bird” is semi-autobiographical and she captures that time period well. I know this must sound crazy to hear because 2002 doesn’t seem that long ago... but it was. 2002 was 15 years ago, and this film shows how different things were back then- well, mainly the music and flip phones. Gerwig is a talented director and I expect big things from her in the future.

What can I say about Saoirse Ronan that I haven’t already said before. I absolutely love her. She can play any age from 17 – 25.  In 2002, I was a sophomore and I went to school with many “Lady Birds,” so I can say with a degree of certainty that she captures perfectly the nightmare that is being different. Ronan show us the frustration that comes with being a 17 year old girl- both the joys of falling in love and the aftermath of getting hurt. Ronan does it all. Last week I raved about Sally Hawkins’ performance in “The Shape Of Water,” and before that I raved about France McDormand in “Three Billboards." Ronan stands beside these women as the third lock for an Oscar nomination. This will be her third nomination and, for a 23 year old, that’s impressive. I’d be so happy if she won, but it will undoubtedly be a tough race.

   The Actress from this film deserves special recognition is Laurie Metcalf. Metcalf is the first real portrayal of a mother that I have seen in a film. Marion McPherson is the most complex character I’ve  come across in my entire film education. Marion loves her daughter, but there is a question of whether or not she likes her. At least, it appears she doesn't throughout most of the film. Being a teenager is a trying time. Not just for the child, but for dear mom and dad as well. Metcalf has a great line in the film  where, during a fight with her family she asks: “Why do I always have to be the bad guy?” I feel like that is the truest statement ever uttered for a mother figure in a film. Metcalf is heartbreakingly good and come award season I think she’ll see some reward for this performance.

                “Lady Bird” is one of the best films of the year. It’s not always pretty. In fact, sometimes it gets very real. Even so this film is a beautiful portrait of lost people desperately grasping for a life preserver. Metcalf and Ronan give the most honest mother/daughter portrayal in years. Gerwig was snubbed for the Globe nomination but I feel she could be nominated for the Oscar. See “Lady Bird.” Take in all its glory and realize why this is the best reviewed film of 2017.


scott kurlandComment