Saturday, November 18, 2017

Lady Bird (HIFF 2017) - Movie Review

The Movie: Lady Bird

The Director: Greta Gerwig

The Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Lois Smith, Odeya Rush

The Story: The adventures of a young woman living in Northern California for a year.

The Review:
You know those rare moments when you are half way into a movie and you realize you are witnessing something truly special? Greta Gerwig's directorial debut just did that for me. From start to finish, this film is absolutely brilliant. The writing is inspired, the dialog is refreshingly real, and the performances are particularly inspiring. As an actress, Ms. Gerwig has held the title of indie darling for a few years now as her performances carved a path of destruction through stale Hollywood tropes and stereotypes. If this film is any indication, she may actually be a better director than an actress which, of course, would be saying a lot.

Gerwig's signature is taking relatable characters and putting them into a wonderfully altered experience without ever losing the foundation of reality or the sense that you actually know who these people are in real life. There's no sensationalism or fairy tale cliche in her story, the humor and entertainment comes from the fact that you watch each moment as if it could have been pulled from your own life no matter you background or where you are from. The themes of family, struggling with being a teenager, and just understanding life are universal and Gerwig uses each to great effect. Add in some really smart editing and an eye for colors and lighting and the only thing you'd be missing would be inspired performances from talented actors. Oh, wait...

Saoirse Ronan kick started her career with some really good work in films like The Lovely Bones and Hanna although it was Brooklyn that really put her on the map as a true contender and awards season regular. Watching her in Lady Bird is a pure delight and she more than proves how talented she is thanks to what is probably the best material she has had to work with to date.

Equal to the task and fantastic in her own right is Laurie Metcalf as Lady Bird's mom. The strength and emotion she brings to the performance is essential to both characters working as well as they do since they mirror each other in so many ways. I also really liked Tracy Letts as Lady Bird's gentle and understanding father as well as Lucas Hedges who, as Lady Bird's ex boyfriend, has one of the most powerful moments in the entire movie.

The Verdict:
Lady Bird officially announces the emergence of Greta Gerwig as a multi talented Hollywood powerhouse. The movie is fresh, original, emotional, relatable, entertaining, and thought provoking and might just be one of the best coming of age stories ever put on film.

Lade Bird is an official selection of the 2017 Hawaii International Film Festival. coverage of the 2017 Hawaii International Film Festival.

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