Genuinely Masterful: Our Review of ‘Lady Bird’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, Theatrical, TIFF 2017 by - November 09, 2017
Genuinely Masterful: Our Review of ‘Lady Bird’

It’s a truly beautiful thing in this business when you get to see something get done damn near to perfection…

After a brief yet monstrously successful festival run, writer/director Greta Gerwig announces herself as a force to be reckoned with as her Lady Bird is simply one of the true genuine delights of this cinematic season as she delivers a coming of age story that is quirky, fun, emotional and most importantly honest.

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) fights against but is exactly like her wildly loving, deeply opinionated and strong-willed mom (Laurie Metcalf), a nurse working tirelessly to keep her family afloat after Lady Bird’s father (Tracy Letts) loses his job. Set in Sacramento, California in 2002, amidst a rapidly shifting American economic landscape, Lady Bird is an affecting look at the relationships that shape us, the beliefs that define us, and the unmatched beauty of a place called home.

Many try to capture it, but Greta Gerwig nails this coming of age story with absolute precision and perfection in capturing the tumultuous energy of youth and marrying it to the realities of the economic crisis of 2002 thanks to some truly deft storytelling and performances that are effortlessly compelling to watch.

While this may only be her second trip into the director’s chair (and first on her own) Greta Gerwig has spent a rich acting career mining the human experience for not only its natural comedy but its genuine emotion and heart as well.  With a deft touch and natural tone, she knows how to navigate this story with aplomb because while her insights on the young person’s experience might be a refreshing tone from a cinematic standpoint the reason why they resonate so damn well is because they are devoid of any manufactured bullshit and feels like and genuinely honest slice of life.  Gerwig tells this story with a steadfast confidence that is rarely seen is seasoned directors much less one’s who are only working on their first solo feature film.  She captures the pain and confusion of those moments of change that we all have to deal with such honesty and beauty that I am unashamed to admit that I teared up more than once as she allows the audience to get incredibly invested in everyone of her characters.  The angst of youth and wanting to leave is palpable but so is the economic uncertainty with a family on the brink of going into new directions.  Rarely do stories this small and emotional feel so epic and universal all at the same time and it simply couldn’t not have been done with the incredible talent she surrounded herself with which is probably one of the most important steps to truly being a good if not a great director.

Saoirse Ronan is simply a global treasure and if there was a movie of her reading the phone book for two hours; I’d be the first in line to buy a ticket.  Ridiculously talented beyond her years, Ronan knows how to walk the balance beam between petulant teen and burgeoning young woman with shocking ease and she crafts a character performance that makes you empathize with her pain, but one that also wants to make you shake her senseless when she’s being an antagonistic pain in the ass.  It’s the smart, ambitious young woman who’s not quite as smart as she thinks she is and is desperate to get out of an existence that she has deemed mundane even though she’s categorizing the only people that she has ever loved into that very realm.  She’s just electric to watch at every turn.

Laurie Metcalf is a genuine revelation as she matches Ronan at every turn making for a headstrong mother/daughter dynamic that I am positive many people will be able to connect with.  It wouldn’t shock me at all to see Metcalf as somewhat of a ‘dark horse’ nominee during the awards season push.  The incomparable Tracy Letts understands his role as the long suffering Dad quite well while the likes of Timothee Chalamet, Lois Smith and Lucas Hedges add some colour and Beanie Feldstein adds some brilliant comic relief as Lady Bird’s long suffering yet loyal to the end friend.

As far as the subgenre of the ‘Coming of Age’ story goes, Lady Bird is beyond seminal if only because it comes from such an honest place and when stories like that come along you just can’t help but be drawn to them and that’s what makes it one of the best films of the entire year.

This post was written by

David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.