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LADY BIRD SPEC D: Greta Gerwig. US..
LADY BIRD SPEC D: Greta Gerwig. US. 94 min. Rating: NNNN
Gerwig’s solo directorial debut (she previously co-directed 2008’s Nights And Weekends with Joe Swanberg) 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, Lady Bird follows hyperarticulate, borderline obnoxious Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) – who insists that 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 played by 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 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, writer/director 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.