If you’re not clued into the special connection Greta Gerwig has to the independent spirit among us, you’re not paying attention.
Gerwig is a rising star of things cool and somewhat out there, an actress of building resonance and confidence with great turns in two 2016 movies of note, playing First Lady aide Nancy Tuckerman in Jackie and one of the important motivators in the life of the growing young man as Abbie in 20th Century Women.
And then she took to pen and directorship of her own story, really, with Lady Bird.
The year is 2002, and Christine MacPherson is going through all that a Catholic high school girl can stomach in Sacramento, Calif. As an act of independence, she’s given herself the name Lady Bird. And it’s stuck, even with her parents, the tired Marion and Larry.
Written and directed by Gerwig, this is a story of great angst, turmoil, sense of self, family ties, friendship. And, yes, personal growth.
The acting is spot-on for the time period and emotional roller coaster.
Saoirse Ronan indeed comes off as a young Gerwig, her red hair shining and personality seething. Laurie Metcalf percolates as her mother, biting back bitterly in a classic mother-daughter dance of will, but always carrying a sense of maternal caring and loyalty underneath. Tracy Letts perfectly understates as the downtrodden dad. And the kids are more than all right, from Beanie Feldstein’s fantastic turn as the main gal pal to the exchange of boys played by Lucas Hedges and Timothy Chalamet.
Growing up was no picnic here.
My dear wife Karen sat superbly riveted, a native Californian who afterward declared that Gerwig got it right for gender and her place.