Perhaps my most anticipated film of this year’s festival was Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird. I have adored her work since seeing her last year in 20th Century Women, as well as Jackie. She has a firm grasp on emotion and fun, and suffice it to say, that grasp also extends to writing and directing. I may even go so far as to say she has a brighter future behind the camera than in front of it.
Simply put, this film is a knockout. It is the funniest film I have seen all year, and this is due to a beautiful melding of acting, directing, and writing. From the opening paragraph I praised Gerwig’s talent at the latter two of these filmic professions, but I have neglected to mention the names of the glorious performers herein, who I believe give more than one Oscar-worthy performance. I would be shocked if the young Saoirse Ronan did not at least get a nod at next year’s Academy Awards for Best Actress, and I will be beside myself if Laurie Metcalf (who plays Lady Bird’s mother), does not win for Best Supporting Actress. She gives, without a doubt, the most dynamic performance of the year, and is able to make the audience laugh and cry whenever she needs or wants to. There is not a wasted moment of her talent, and this is once again only made possible by the (unsurprising) talent of the director/writer.
A quick glance at Gerwig’s IMDB page will tell you just how much of Lady Bird is inspired by her own life. Like the title character, Gerwig was born in Sacramento, where the story takes place. As well, the title character of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson takes her first name from Gerwig’s mother, who was also named Christine. What else about this film is autobiographical? Who knows, but the already-evident intimate connection between the film and the director’s personal life helped to bring the story out of the screen and into the hearts of the audience members, including myself. I would be hard-pressed to find a film during the remainder of the festival (and probably the year) which will make me laugh harder and relate more to the characters than Lady Bird did. This is a truly special film, and one that should absolutely not be missed by fans of Gerwig, Ronan, or the production company A24.