There’s an alternate universe where CBS picked up the “How I Met Your Mother” spinoff starring Greta Gerwig, which has been on the air for 3 years now, and as a result, we never got Lady Bird. I’m convinced that that is the darker timeline – though, on the other hand, 3 seasons of a TV show starring Greta Gerwig might be worth it.
I’ve been a big fan of Greta Gerwig ever since I saw her in the gloriously delightful Frances Ha, which she co-wrote. It was clear from that film that this is a woman with a really specific and unique vision, even beyond any creative spark that was imbued upon the film by co-writer and director Noah Baumbach. So it’s safe to say that I’ve been looking forward to Lady Bird ever since it was first announced.
Lady Bird is a joy to watch. It is semi-autobiographical in much the same way as Frances Ha is, and while I didn’t know how much I wanted a prequel to Frances Ha, in getting it I was delighted.
Like many-a-coming-of-age film to come before, Lady Bird follows a girl as she lives through her senior year of high school, a year of transition and love and maturation for everyone, but especially for her. Christine McPherson, AKA Lady Bird, (Saoirse Ronan, who has some of the most piercing eyes in Hollywood) is a bit of a rebel, a strong-willed personality trying to find her place in the world, struggling with a mother (Laurie Metcalf, hopefully due for an Oscar nomination) who has too much love to give, with boys who challenge and frustrate her in different ways, with balancing her friendships and school and college applications.
It’s a bit of a cliche to say that a film finds universality in the specific, but in this case, it wholly applies. We haven’t all been 17-year-old girls in Catholic school, we haven’t all dated a boy who turned out to be gay, or been put in the ensemble in our school play, but Lady Bird offers so many ways to connect with its characters through those specific circumstances that it’s impossible not to relate.
All told, it’s an expertly constructed film, a lovingly satirical paean to a city that doesn’t usually get depicted on screen; this is a true cinematic triumph for Greta Gerwig and her creative vision.
I am curious, of course, to see what her next directorial step will be. You can only mine the autobiographical for so long, and eventually, she’ll have to take the next step as a creator. I greatly look forward to whatever that next step is for her.