Set over one summer, the film follows precocious 6-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Disney World.
Thirty years after they served together in Vietnam, a former Navy Corpsman Larry "Doc" Shepherd re-unites with his old buddies, former Marines Sal Nealon and Reverend Richard Mueller, to bury his son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War.
An other-worldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa's life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.
Guillermo del Toro
Premiered at the 2017 Telluride Film Festival. See more »
When Lady Bird's parents pull up to the curb at the airport, a United sign is visible bearing the company's current globe logo, which it inherited from its merger with Continental Airlines. The scene takes place in summer 2003, but the United/Continental merger re-branding was not completed until 2012. See more »
Lady Bird is the semi-biographical directing debut of noted indie actress Greta Gerwig. The film stars Saoirse Ronan as Christine 'Lady Bird' McPherson, a Sacramento teen whose uneasy shift into adulthood bears unpredictable and transformative results for her, her friends and her family. She dreams of moving as far away as possible for college, in part to avoid her contentious relationship with her mother (Metcalf). The prospect seems unlikely however given her father's recent unemployment. Thus while she waits, Lady Bird soaks in and learns from her encounters with her boyfriends, her run-ins with the well-meaning nuns at her out-of-touch Catholic School and the quirks of her dozy hometown.
Much like Gerwig's breakthrough success Frances Ha (2012) (a film she also co-wrote), Lady Bird has a very frank, very refreshing honesty to it. The characters, both major and minor are flawed and sympathetic, the story and the city in which it takes place feels fleshed out; drawn with an appreciation and love that appeals to a certain sense of remembrance. It's not nostalgic who truly can be nostalgic for 2002, a year Lady Bird notes for being a palindrome and little else. It's more like an honest examination of that awkward period in life after high school, before college where boredom, jadedness and sexual frustration can unknowingly turn you into the adult you will become.
The honesty goes a long way in overcoming the usual teen dramedy clichés. While the film stops just short of surprising audiences with the wholly unexpected, Lady Bird nevertheless spins its web of story lines in a unique configuration. The expected mother-daughter friction, the Catholic School repression and the pompous proto-douche boyfriend subplots are all here and accounted for but they're painted in with such care and loving detail. Like a Faberge egg this film is cognizant of tradition but encrusted with unique filigree all its own.
Supporting cast members Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts are truly spectacular as Lady Bird's hardened but still loving parents. They both dominate different extremes of the parental spectrum (one overbearing, the other a little too free-wielding), yet both only want what's best for their children even if it costs them their pride, their finances and in one subplot their dignity. Beanie Feldstein and Lucas Hedges likewise make pretty good hay out their roles as Lady Bird's long suffering best friend and first boyfriend respectively. While it would have been nice to see more of Hedges exploring the deeper complexities of his character, what ends up on screen, works in serving the overall narrative.
Saoirse Ronan is an interesting choice as an avatar for Gerwig's personal tale of adolescence and turmoil. The film requires her to be funny, charming, excitable, aggressive, and a bit of a brat depending on the circumstances. And while the young actress hits all those notes, she does so with an uncomfortable passivity that often risks making the movie about her environment as opposed to about her. One can't help but compare Ronan to the fearless Hailee Steinfeld of last year's Edge of Seventeen (2016) and wonder if by this time next year, we'll still be talking about the self-absorbed but not too self-absorbed Lady Bird? That along with the strong inference that Lady Bird is a lesser, spiritual prequel to Frances Ha means the film, for all its positives doesn't go all-the-way sort of speak. It's an honest movie and a lovely movie but not as truly transformative or life-changing as could have or should have been. The bad news is that means The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) will stay in the popular consciousness for only that much longer. The good news is hopefully that means Greta Gerwig is just getting warmed up. With a movie that ultimately feels as custom made as this one, I'm very, very excited to see what she comes up with next.
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