Coming-of-age stories nearly always show the tension and arguments teenagers have with their parents and other authority figures. However, none show this inevitable aspect of emerging adulthood quite like Lady Bird, a Golden Globe winning and Oscar-nominated film.

‘Lady Bird’ Blu-Ray Review

Writer-director Greta Gerwig’s (Frances Ha, Mistress America) solo directorial debut centers on 17-year-old Christine McPherson (Oscar nominee Saoirse RonanBrooklyn, Atonement), a rebellious girl living in Sacramento, California in the early 2000s. Christine — who insists everyone in her life call her “Lady Bird” — is simply attempting to navigate the murky waters of high school life armed with nothing but her rebellious attitude (which includes her choice of pseudonym and pink hair highlights). Lady Bird is desperately itching to leave Sacramento and the Catholic high school she abhors and expresses a desire to go to the East Coast for college. However, her take-no-nonsense, combative and brutally honest mother (Laurie Metcalf) is opposed to this, among many other issues she has with her daughter.

Lady Bird continues to discover who she truly is over the course of her senior year of high school, and struggles to simultaneously deal with teachers and strict nuns, keeping her best friend (Beanie Feldstein) close, boyfriends (Lucas Hedges, Timothee Chalamet) and above all, her tense relationship with her mother.

Perhaps what makes Lady Bird so entrancing is precisely the fact that it is such an unadulterated depiction of the ups and downs, the joys and tribulations of the last year before a teenager “leaves the nest” to attend college. Specifically, the repeated butting of heads between the practically fearless protagonist — who seems like she has very little to apologize for about who she is — and her mother is one that virtually any girl of that age or older can either relate to or remember clearly. (Any male siblings can also relate as witnesses to the often heated relationships mothers and daughters can have).

The very first scene of the film is already filled with so much tension — even if it is in a humorous way — that you can’t help but imagine what crazy things are in store for the next 1 hour and 30 minutes. We see Lady Bird and her mother Marion having an argument about college while driving in a car, with the former saying she wants to go “where culture is, like New York.”

“You probably couldn’t even get into any of those schools anyway,” bluntly responds Marion, before adding to her daughter that she should “just go to city college, and then jail, and then back to city college,” so she can learn to get her act together. The scene culminates with Lady Bird — who refuses to hear her mother say another word — opening the door of the moving car and jumping out onto the pavement of the empty, one-lane highway as her horrified mother lets out a yelp.

This is just one example of the brilliance behind Ronan and Metcalf’s performances: loud but not over-the-top, nuanced rather than vague or one-dimensional.

Even the two young men who play the protagonist’s love interests are incredibly real and memorable in their acting, despite their relatively minor roles. Hedges is absolutely endearing as Danny, a good-natured, polite theater geek from a seemingly wholesome Catholic family, while Chalamet is absurdly stereotypical (but still oddly realistic) as Kyle, a pretentious, lying rocker who believes he’s much more intelligent and cultured than he probably is.

Special features include an audio commentary with Gerwig and Cinematographer Sam Levy and a “Realizing Lady Bird” featurette.

Top it off with a beautiful mixture of comedy and drama as well as a stellar soundtrack that will make any young person reminisce about the early years of the millennium, and Lady Bird will leave you with several conflicting feelings by the time it ends.

 

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