Today I saw Lady Bird, starring Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf.
When discussing films in the coming-of-age genre, with few exceptions we typically refer to films about boys: Stand By Me, The Goonies, etc. Perhaps that's why it's so refreshing to see a girl figuring things out in this brilliant directorial debut from Greta Garwig.
Christine (Ronan) demands to be called Lady Bird and wishes to leave what she calls "the Midwest of California" (a.k.a. Sacramento) in the dust for a New York college. She's bored at Catholic school (although she doesn't do so well in it) and falls in and out of love with boys who seem to like her back. Her family is refreshingly real (Dad's out of work; Mom is overly critical) and her best friend is sweet and supportive.
As Lady Bird makes her way through her senior year of high school, she's both clever and clumsy in her quest to reach her goals. Her honesty sometimes gets her in trouble, but we continue to root for her regardless.
But her story is admittedly not terribly compelling. What's so well done here is the character exposition. We feel as if we know each of the players intimately, but none of them are shoved in our face. What isn't said between Lady Bird and her mother is far more powerful than what is, and the performances by Ronan and Metcalf are a huge part of that success.
It's been a while since a movie made me laugh and cry in equal measure—I'm thankful Ms. Gerwig brought that kind of emotion out in me. And I can't wait to see what she does next.