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COLUMN: Take Flight with "Lady Bird"



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Lady Bird, directed by Greta Gerwig, was released on Nov. 3. The movie is set in California, and follows a teen who prefers to be called Lady Bird as she navigates her senior year of high school. Movie Stills Database Buy Photos

 Grade: A

“Lady Bird” is a career high for lead actress Saoirse Ronan. It is one of the funniest and most moving films about a young adult. With it, writer-director Greta Gerwig establishes herself as a distinctive and exciting cinematic voice. The third act is a little long, but it is still an engrossing movie.

The film takes place in Sacramento, California, from 2002 to 2003. High school senior Christine prefers to be called Lady Bird and dreams of going to college on the East Coast. Lady Bird learns about life as she acts in the school musical and dates two different men. 

Ronan is excellent as the title character. She does a great job at capturing her yearning for a better life and her complex relationship with her mother. Ronan expertly nails each of her many witty lines. 

There are a lot of great jokes in “Lady Bird.” Every character has a specific voice and type of humor that coalesces well together. A running gag about a football coach directing a play is one of the funniest things I’ve seen this year.      

Even as it piles on humorous moments, this movie never loses sight of its characters’ hardships. There is some great commentary about class in America and how we should treat people. Laurie Metcalf’s performance as Lady Bird’s mom is an emotional look at how people deal with their pain. 

“Lady Bird” is even more exciting when you realize it is the first film that Gerwig has directed by herself. She is primarily known as an actor in films such as “Frances Ha” and “Maggie’s Plan.” Every shot that she composed with director of photography Sam Levy has a great confidence to it. 

The supporting cast in this film is fantastic. Beanie Feldstein is hilarious as Lady Bird’s best friend Julie. Lucas Hedges is endearing as Danny. Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts delivers a complex performance as Larry, Lady Bird’s father. 

This movie isn’t perfect. The third act in particular has too many false endings. Nevertheless, the last scene is still well-acted and moving. 

“Lady Bird” is another triumph for Ronan, who is such an exciting young actor. The writing and the cinematography add to its status as a very funny and warm film about adolescence. You can’t help but feel excited for Gerwig’s new career after seeing this movie.   

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