TIFF 2017 Review: Lady Bird is Greta Gerwig’s Coming of Age Masterpiece.
Greta Gerwig has always been an actress who I always enjoyed seeing on the big screen. Her roles in comedies such as Francis Ha are a lot of fun while her dramatic performance as Abbie in 20th Century Women was filled with emotion and skill. Gerwig is a young talent who seemed to come out of nowhere but year after year kept showing up in various independent projects while proving that she is here to stay.
Now in 2017, Greta Gerwig has stepped behind the camera to bring the world Lady Bird, a film which she not only directed but wrote as well. Lady Bird follows Christine who refers to herself as Lady Bird. In her last year of high school, Christine is planning for her future. Her mother wants her to stay close by in Sacramento but Christine dreams of spreading her wings and moving to New York City where she can experience life and culture on her own. The film focuses on her friendship with her best friend Julie, relationships with her potential boyfriends, Kyle and Danny, as well as her mom and dad.
Lady Bird is the coming of age tale that will become a classic along with many of the great John Hughes films. What makes Lady Bird such a stand out coming of age story is that the film is grounded in reality with several authentic moments where you know watching it that it came directly from Gerwig’s own life. In a lot of ways, Lady Bird might be the best coming of age film ever made for a female audience. My wife was nearly in tears during several scenes because Christine’s life was so very similar to her own. From her relationship with her mother to feeling like an outsider in high school, Greta Gerwig captures these moments with honesty but also humanity.
Saoirse Ronan, who I always adored as an actress, delivers her finest performance to date. Ronan embraces exactly what it is like to be a teenager growing up in a town with a rich and poor side. She refers to herself as being born on the “wrong side of the tracks,” and she is constantly reminded that she isn’t as rich as some of the other kids in school. She doesn’t live in a big house nor can she afford to go to the expensive private schools without her family struggling. These are common yet real problems that Christine faces daily along with the normal obstacles that come with being a teenager.
Everyone in this film perfectly cast to fit the role that they play. Lucas Hedges is opposite of his character in last year’s Manchester by the Sea and proves that he is no one-hit wonder. Beanie Feldstein is great as Christine’s best friend, and I love how they just “get” and appreciate one another. As a viewer, you get the feeling that these two actors aren’t acting but are really good friends that understand each other. The relationship between Christine and her parents are where the film shines the brightest. The fight scene where Christine flips out on her mom and asks her how much money she spent on her so she can pay her back is such a powerful and emotional moment.
There is another great scene between Christine and her mother where she is trying on dresses, and Christine asks her mom if she likes her. These are moments that you can relate to on a personal level whether you are male or female. These are the moments that we often feel but rarely express to others which are what makes seeing them on the screen so powerful. The scenes between Christine and her father might not be as emotionally powerful as the ones with her mother, but they still spark emotion and feel very true to life.
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is something special and proves that Gerwig is not only a talent in front of the camera but behind one as well. In a sea of coming of age movies, Lady Bird stands out as a truly fantastic film. It is a film that will become a cult classic and be discussed by generations to come. This is finally a great coming of age film that relates to women as much as it does to men. Lady Bird is Greta Gerwig’s personal and poignant coming of age masterpiece.
Scott ‘Movie Man’ Menzel’s rating for Lady Bird is a 9 out of 10.