FILM UNFILTERED - Coming-of-age movie ‘Lady Bird’ features talented cast

FILM UNFILTERED - Coming-of-age movie ‘Lady Bird’ features talented cast


Last week in my column, I reviewed the movie “Wonder” which dealt with a disfigured boy going into elementary school. This week I review “Lady Bird,” which is about a senior in a Catholic all girls high school in Sacramento Calif.

Both films explore the challenges and tribulations associated with making friends, learning and coping. But “Lady Bird” is cut from a much different cloth and it certainly is not cut from the Shroud of Turin. This is an irreverent and quirky coming-of-age story not unlike another film from decades ago that also followed an opinionated but talented young girl in “Pretty in Pink” with Molly Ringwald.

Here, the title character of Christine “Lady Bird” is played by Saoirse Ronan. Like many other teenage girls, she is worried about her appearance, losing her virginity and getting into a good college. As she explains it herself during the film, she comes from the “wrong side of the tracks.”

Her parents want her to go to the University of California-Davis, which of course is in-state (and cheaper), while she has aspirations of leaving the nest and flying far away to the East Coast.

Her mother is played by “Roseanne” alum Laurie Metcalf, and she is a gem. Mom clearly has a touch of obsessive-compulsive disorder, wants the best for her daughter, but is incapable of truly showing love and that is a resonating theme throughout the movie.

The film spends a lot of time examining the relationship between mother and daughter, which is a tenuous relationship and neither one ever wants to concede or give up any ground. This is a different film, perhaps not as mainstream as the public would perceive it to be but it is darkly funny with a very solid chunk of sarcasm. The setting in the Catholic high school is also a great addition to the film because for someone like myself who persevered through 12 years of parochial school, I can relate to some of the jokes and comments Lady Bird makes throughout the movie.

One of the other things that resonates throughout this film is a question of class and money; they don’t hide or shy away from the fact that Lady Bird and her family struggle, and I think that is a realistic touch that many films shy away from nowadays. This is about a family that struggles financially but shows the sacrifices they make on behalf of their daughter.

There is also a great supporting cast here, from her older brother and his girlfriend to Danny (Lucas Hedges) who she befriends from the boy’s school when they work on a joint theater production, to her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) and her quiet but well-meaning father Larry (Tracy Letts). Lois Smith plays the understanding and comforting Sister Sarah.

Saoirse Ronan is superb in this role and easily explores and embodies what it’s like going through high school when you feel like you don’t fit in with all of the other cliques.

Writer and director Greta Gerwig delivers a sound script with smart conversations, witty repartee and insightful ponderings for all the characters throughout. Set in 2003, the film echoes back to times many of us have forgotten, but once they start dropping a few Dave Matthews Band tunes in there, it suddenly feels familiar.

Rated R.

“Lady Bird” stars Saoirse Ronan, left, as Christine and Beanie Feldstein as her best friend, Julie. The film follows Christine, aka Lady Bird, through the trials of her senior year in a Catholic school.