LADY BIRD (Greta Gerwig). 93 minutes. Opens Friday (November 10). See listing. Rating: NNNN
Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut is a small, lovely little character piece about a headstrong teenager desperate to reinvent herself and get out of Sacramento.
Unfolding over the 2002 school year, the film follows hyper-articulate, borderline obnoxious Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) – who insists everyone call her Lady Bird – as she barrels through her senior year at a Catholic high school. She’s constantly at odds with everyone – fighting with her mother (a wonderful Laurie Metcalf), taking advantage of her father (Tracy Letts), abandoning friends and experimenting with boys, one of whom is Manchester By The Sea’s breakout star Lucas Hedges.
Alternately lively and thoughtful, Lady Bird is the work of someone looking back critically on a frantic period in her own life. The details feel authentic, from the music to the clothes, and the class divide between Christine and her richer schoolmates is underlined in a dozen subtle ways.
The movie has emotional clarity, too. Though Christine is oblivious to the damage she leaves in her wake, Gerwig makes sure we’re fully aware of it. She knows better now she’s learned other people’s feelings are as vivid as her own. Christine hasn’t – but she will, and it’s going to save her.