Lady Bird

Directed by indie actress Greta Gerwig best known for her Golden Globe-nominated performance in 2012’s Frances Ha, Lady Bird is a brilliant film featuring a refreshing take on adolescence and terrific acting performances, especially the young leading actress. A semi-autobiographical story from the first time director, the movie is set in Gerwig’s actual hometown of Sacramento and takes place during the protagonist’s 2002-2003 senior year in high school. The story follows the free-spirited and rebellious Christine McPherson, played by the extremely talented two-time Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan, as she navigates the often awkward and chaotic last year at a Catholic high school. The central theme throughout the plot is the sometimes fraught yet loving mother-daughter relationship between Christine, who goes by the self-ascribed nickname Lady Bird, and her equally strong-willed mother, played by Laurie Metcalf best known for her role in the TV series Roseanne. When we first meet her, Christine is somewhat of a troublemaker who constantly frustrates the nuns and does not take her schoolwork seriously. She enjoys playing around with her overweight and funny best friend Julie, but their friendship is tested when Christine desperately wants a boyfriend and hangs out with the popular rich girl at school. During the beginning, she falls for a young man named Danny, played by Academy Award nominee Lucas Hedges, who is a fellow actor in the musical she originally begrudgingly signs up for with her best friend. As she tries to fit in like a typical teenager, Christine has to deal with the repercussions of her father, played by Tracy Letts, losing his job while coping with her stressed-out mother who wants her daughter to succeed but struggles with the possibility that her only daughter may move away for college. Christine’s very strong desire to be independent causes her to act out and eventually starts to date a wild teenager from a nearby Catholic school. Throughout the film, Christine openly loathes her hometown Sacramento and makes it her goal to go to college in a different state as far away as possible from what she sees as such a boring and provincial city. Like her clingy mother, however, she eventually realizes that things in her life need to change in order to grow up. Towards the end, she finally appreciates her family and who she is and develops a sentimental attachment to Sacramento and her experiences at Catholic school. Overall, I found it to be a very impressive independent film, particularly remarkable for having a rookie director, full of excellent performances that help perfect such a hilarious and emotionally dramatic coming-of-age story. 

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