Film Review: Lady Bird

I loved Saoirse Ronan in the film Brooklyn, and last night her new film, Lady Bird, opened at our local independent theater. The film also features Laurie Metcalf, whose work I got to know through the short HBO TV run of “Getting On“, a hilariously funny dark comedy about life in a long term care unit of a financially struggling hospital. Metcalf and Ronan are both brilliant, and Lady Bird lives up to the promise of making great use of their talents. The cast also includes Lucas Hedges, of Manchester by the Sea, who plays Ronan’s boyfriend.

Ronan’s first name is pronounced “Sheer-sa”. Don’t you love the challenge of Irish names? 🙂  I don’t know how to say Sheer-sa because of my Irish heritage. I know it because I looked it up on Google.

In Brooklyn Ronan has a thick Irish accent; here she has none at all. I’m reminded of the Scottish actor Alan Cummings, whose accent is also pronounced but which he left aside for his role in the Good Wife. I’m amazed at the ability to compartmentalize the way you naturally talk.

Ronan plays Metcalf’s daughter — both women loving, strong-willed, and opinionated — in a family where dad has lost his job. That story could be old news, but in the hands of a great cast and a new director, Greta Gerwig, it isn’t.

The plot isn’t surprising to anyone who’s raised a teenager and seen her or him off to college. It’s the acting that’s superb, and the film’s surprisingly poignant moments. The priest who is the high school drama coach suffers a breakdown, is hospitalized, and becomes a patient of Lady Bird’s mother. “Please,” he asks her, “don’t tell your daughter.” Lady Bird’s father is out of a job; he goes for an interview, trying to sell his out of date credentials to a much younger interviewer. The pitch falls short. On his way out, the father meets his son, dressed in a suit, on his way to interview for the same job. The son is hired.

The film is getting a lot of hype, and I imagine it will be released broadly. If you’ve ever sent a kid off to college, or been the kid going off to college, the film will evoke a lot of memories and perhaps some strong emotion. Definitely worth a see.


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