By: Henry J. Fromage (A Toast) –
Greta Gerwig has always had a particular voice that always complements the directors she works with like Noah Baumbach and Whit Stillman, but never feels like any but her own, particularly when she’s either contributing to the script, or writing it outright (she doesn’t seem like the kind of gal who has acted without any input on her character for many a year).
She probably sat this one out, though.
Lady Bird is her directorial debut, a story of a headstrong Sacramento high-schooler (Saoirse Ronan) navigating the choppy waters of her senior year, the dating world, friendships, and butting heads with her equally headstrong mother (Laurie Metcalf), especially about where she will go to college. She’s got East Coast dreams and a Community College work ethic, at least according to Mom, but she’s not the kind of girl to let anything dissuade her.
This film feels like the purest distillation of Gerwig’s voice yet, and like the story she’s been holding onto until she could tell it herself, properly. And boy does she ever. Her characters and storylines feel entirely sprung from real experience, joy, laughter, and not a little heartbreak, and unlike any of her previous comedies, all of which had their touches of pathos, Lady Bird really makes you feel all of it. It’s a remarkable step forward for an already confident and accomplished talent, and already bears mention with the classics of the coming-of-age genre. It just freaking gets ya, and one can see generations of future artsy types and outsiders gravitating to the honesty and hope on display here. Gerwig, *ahem*, Lady Bird made it all work for her, so why not you?
Gerwig also shines on the directorial front, overseeing sun-kissed lensing from Sam Levy and a soundtrack of perfectly deployed needle drops, as well as an all-around accomplished cast, featuring your 2018 Best Supporting Actress winner Laurie Metcalf (just chalk it up, folks). Saoirse Ronan regresses a tad from her more adult Brooklyn to play another high schooler, but plays it well, showing she can swing back and forth across that teenage divide at well and deliver a striking performance each time. When the camera at last cuts on her face pondering the brand new, uncertain, and adult path before her, you’ll feel right there with her.
Just… trust me. This film’s for you.
Lady Bird is both a near-flawless directorial debut from Greta Gerwig and an evolution in her voice that bodes exciting things to come.
Lady Bird (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Lady Bird fights with her mother
Take a Drink: every time the topic of college comes up
Take a Drink: every time the topic of finances comes up
Do a Shot: for bad sex