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Sunday, February 25, 2018


(Saoirse Ronan)

Lady Bird flies high and handsome with Greta Gerwig becoming only the second woman to be nominated for an Oscar in the best director category. (Review by Patrick Compton 9/10)

Greta Gerwig has delivered an almost perfect love letter to her younger self. This delightful movie, her directorial debut, is a funny, moving and wise coming-of-age drama set in her home town of Sacramento. In some ways it’s the female equivalent of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood.

Gerwig will be a familiar figure to some, albeit on the other end of the camera. The tall blonde has appeared in some of her partner Noah Baumbach’s independent comedies, notably Greenberg (2010), Frances Ha (2012) and Mistress America (2015). She has also made waves in various supporting roles in movies such as To Rome with Love (2012), Jackie (2016) and 20th Century Women (2016).

The concept of a coming-of-age teenage high school comedy-drama is hardly new, and many of the characteristic boxes of that genre are ticked in this film. But the remarkable quality of the script – every line rings true – the sensitive direction and the magnificent performances by Saoirse (pronounced Sur-sha) Ronan as the rebellious “Lady Bird” of the movie’s title and Laurie Metcalf as her passionate, controlling mother take the film into completely new territory.

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson is a spiky teen at a Catholic girls’ school in downbeat Sacramento. The family is pressed for money, dad has depression issues and Lady Bird is determined to escape her home town and go to a liberal arts university on the sophisticated East Coast, preferably in New York.

Her mother, a doctor, is intensely irritated by her seemingly ungrateful daughter, not least her desire to self-identify by not responding to her given name. The opening scene in her mother’s car beautifully sets the scene for what develops into a complex, nuanced, loving and antagonistic relationship.

Lady Bird’s various relationships at school are memorably mapped out. There’s Julie, who has weight issues, first boyfriend Danny (Lucas Hedges) and first lover Kyle (Timothée Chalamet). Through all of these Lady Bird emerges as a passionate, enquiring, hot-tempered, vulnerable and not always admirable young woman.

But it is her adversarial relationship with her mother that lies at the heart of the movie and gives it its depth. In this regard, the final sequence between the two women is deeply moving; most parents, I am sure, will recognise it, or something very like it, in their own lives.

Lady Bird is showing at Gateway Mall – Patrick Compton