For me, 2019 is about watching all of the movies I’ve been putting off for so long. Lady Bird was number one on a list of exactly 360 films I plan on watching this calendar year. Gerwig’s breakout in directing, the once acclaimed actor has now branched into directing, as many in her field do. Luckily this on-screen star is one of the few to make the leap to off screen brilliance. Lady Bird is a true triumph and achievement in filmmaking.
Its subtlety lies in the supporting cast. Perhaps the best part of the movie as a whole is Tracy Letts’ performance as Larry McPherson. A moving and touching performance relegated to just a few bursts of screen time, but impactful like the rest of the movie nonetheless. He didn’t reduce me to a blubbering mess, but it was the subtlety of the dialogue throughout that kept us up to date on his story and it was beautifully well performed.
Maybe that’s what I loved most about Lady Bird. Its realism is its strongest suit. The idea that everyone has problems, but they just live with them and carry on and about with their lives. The McPherson family is presented like any other family – one with problems that bubble up to the surface sometimes, both because of one another and oneself. It’s the quieter parts of the movie, the brief awkward encounter between Larry and his son, Miguel; or the dynamic relationship between Lady Bird and her mother, Marion.
Marion as a character is absolutely superb. Laurie Metcalf’s performance is similar to that of Allison Janney’s performance in I, Tonya – the sole difference being that Metcalf was more worthy of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Metcalf blends the mother’s maternal instinct cliché into something unique with a performance I could best describe as cold, loving and endearing all at once. It’s a testament to performers everywhere, one of the strongest performances I’ve ever seen in a movie in years.
Of course, it’s hard to talk about any of this movie without talking about the phenomenal performance given by Saoirse Ronan. Quickly becoming one of the most reliable (and one of my favourite) actors in Hollywood, Ronan proves her dramatic capabilities here in a very brief window of time. She captures what I feel a better version of The Edge of Seventeen would have been like. Her chemistry with supporting actors Timothee Chalamet and Lucas Hedges are superb and really make the film better in general.
Probably the closest I’ll get to enjoying a movie for what it is both on the surface and through its metaphors. The style never detracts from the substance, nor does the substance outweigh the brilliant style and unique flair of Greta Gerwig’s production. Dare I say it, it’s a great coming of age movie, one that resonates with me on a personal level given that I’ve just fucked off to university in the past few months. Get interested by the cast and director, stay for the performances and beauty of unravelling this story.