Lady Bird is for the melodramatic, nostalgic, and comedic

Lady Bird creator Greta Gerwig says Saiorse Ronan’s Lady Bird isn’t autobiographical.- ELEVATION

Lady Bird creator Greta Gerwig says Saiorse Ronan’s Lady Bird isn’t autobiographical.- ELEVATION

One of the many things that "Lady Bird", Greta Gerwig's debut as a writer-director, is so truthful about is how those closest to us can drive us so insane, and how those who exasperate us the most leave the biggest hole when they're gone. Lady Bird is far more succinct in its approach than Linklater's dramatic epic (which is almost twice as long as Gerwig's film) - focusing on brief moments and small interactions between characters that manage to say a whole lot and pack an emotional punch, using but a few words and with limited screen time.

By the end of the film, Lady Bird really has grown up, and the film captures all the joy and pain of that process, turning a familiar rite of passage, both in life and in movies, into something fresh and surprising. Saoirse Ronan, as Lady Bird, catches the rhythm of the dialogue so that it sounds natural and impulsive rather than merely witty and stylized, blurting a line like "The only interesting thing about 2002 is that it's a palindrome" as though her mouth is racing to keep up with her brain. She constantly butts heads with her sweet-yet-thorny mother (Laurie Metcalf), along with the constant boy drama and decision making that hits a woman in her senior year of high school, and her doting father (Tracy Letts) may be suffering from depression.

The "Lady Bird" in the title is one Christine McPherson, played by Ronan ("Atonement", "Brooklyn").

She also unsettled and anxious, trying to figure out just who she is in that confusing limbo everyone goes through in which they're on the cusp of adulthood - but still a child in so many ways - and eager to get "real" life started.

At this fall's 42 annual Toronto International Film Festival, "Lady Bird" premiered to much acclaim and, after the initial screening there, Gerwig noted, "None of the events in the film actually happened, but it's very personal to me".

As Lady Bird waits to find out whether post-9/11 paranoia will help her chances of escaping to NY, she explores relationships with a couple of boys: Danny (Lucas Hedges), who's into theater, and Kyle (Timothée Chalamet), who's into, well, himself. (That nostalgia will be doubled for those who also survived a Catholic education.) There are also satisfying emotional threads woven throughout, as Lady Bird grows up before our eyes - and while her mother grapples with the fear of the inevitable empty nest. Working from her own screenplay, Gerwig delivers a comedy-drama that transcends genre categories. As she has done with very different roles in the past, Ronan vanishes into the part of the tempestuous Catherine - making the character all the more honest a representation of an actual teenager for it. Ronan's wonderful performance here is matched by that of Metcalf, who is equally moving and shrewdly amusing in her own turn.

Equally enchanting in her supporting role here is Feldstein as the brainy and bubbly Julie, lending all the more authenticity to the character's friendship with Catherine in the film.

"Lady Bird" is a triumph of style, sensibility and spirit. She deals with her attraction to boys, from theater kid Danny (Lucas Hedges) to anti-establishment guitar player Kyle (Timothée Chalamet). And Lady Bird is full of typical teenager stuff: revolting against convention to forge your own identity. She gives both sides equal time, showing Lady Bird as assertive and unsure by turns, while revealing the concern beneath each of Marion's cutting remarks.

"Lady Bird" is comedic. Lady Bird is rated R for language, sexual content, brief graphic nudity and teen partying.

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