Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity, sexuality, teen partying and brief graphic nudity
Running time: 93 minutes
Production Company: Scott Rudin Productions/ IAC Films / Management 360
Saoirse Ronan is only 23, but she’s already been nominated for an Academy Award twice, for Brooklyn (2015) and Atonement (2005). Now, she’s a shoo-in to land another nomination for her memorable turn as the title character in “Lady Bird.”
It’s hard to say whether three times will prove to be the charm for the Irish ingenue, since this has been a banner year for actresses, with powerful performances turned in by worthy competitors such as Sally Hawkins, Frances McDormand and perennial-nominee Meryl Streep. Win or lose, Ronan deserves all the accolades she’s getting for exhibiting an enviable range in a very demanding role as a tormented teen constantly in crisis.
Life is an emotional roller coaster for this college-bound senior. And as the film unfolds, it’s easy to see why. Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson is an iconoclast who refuses to conform, whether she’s rebelling from her overbearing mother (Laurie Metcalf) or breaking the rules at her Catholic high school. She dyes her hair a bizarre blend of red and pink, and insists on being addressed as Lady Bird by everyone.
Despite being an academic underachiever, she’s banking on college as her ticket out of town. She hates boring Sacramento, and won’t settle for a school anywhere but in New York City. But instead of studying to pick up her grades, she indulges her impulses by running for class president and trying out for a role in The Tempest. Plus, her hormones are raging, and she’s a little boy crazy, too. So, excuse her for not being able to keep her eyes on the university prize.
The plot thickens in a variety of surprising ways it would be almost evil to spoil here. Suffice to say that Lady Bird is a fantastic, female-centric, instant classic reminiscent of both “Juno” (2007) and “Bridesmaids” (2011). Written and directed by Mumblecore movement maven Greta Gerwig, the picture is also ostensibly semi-autobiographical, since the Sacramento native attended an all-girls Catholic school before moving to Manhattan to attend Barnard College.
A delightful crowd pleaser well deserving of Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay!