Entertainment » Movies

Lady Bird

by Louise Adams
Wednesday Mar 14, 2018
Lady Bird

The smart, sweet, complicated love letter to coming-of-age "Lady Bird" received five well-deserved Oscar nominations. It won none but cemented a vital place in the female empowerment zeitgeist.

Writer/director Greta Gerwig was the only woman nominated in the Best Director category, and she also received nods for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay with a story set in her hometown of Sacramento. Her leads were also nominated: Saoirse Ronan as the titular teen Christine/Lady Bird (Best Actress) and Laurie Metcalf as the complicated mom (Best Supporting Actress), a Team Estrogen juggernaut.

Actor Gerwig makes her directional debut in this dramedy set in 2002, where the typically troubled teen, a daddy's girl, tries to find friends and herself while her nurse mom Marion tries to maintain a bond and keep the family together after dad Larry (Metcalf's fellow Steppenwolf Theater ensemble member Tracy Letts) loses his job.

The video's special features include audio commentary with the writer/director and cinematographer Sam Levy, and "Realizing Lady Bird," where Gerwig embraces the French term for a film director, réalisateur, the "realizer." "We make everything appear out of thin air," she says.

She adds that while the film is inspired by her life, she then spun the story out into its own orbit. "None of it actually happened," she says, "but it's all true."

After writing the screenplay, she decided to direct as well, because she "wanted to keep her baby."

The featurette briefly touches on Jon Brion's score, and costume designer April Napier's inspirations, including the era's ubiquitous striped Gap sweater.

The film is a pair of love stories. The first is between daughter and mother, "at loggerheads, but with the deepest unconditional love," says Ronan.

Metcalf identified with her character as the real mom of a rebellious teenager. Letts respectfully calls Metcalf "a beast, such ferocity, intimidating" while admiring her "depth, range, power, with hairpin comic timing." Gerwig appreciates her cast because "having good actors help clarify your direction when they ask good questions."

The second love story is between two friends, with Beanie Feldstein as Lady Bird's bestie Julie, "sweet, chubby and great at theater" the actor notes.

Gerwig describes the bittersweet happenstance of denying where you're from, then, "two minutes too late, you realize it's a beautiful place" because you can't really see where you are when you're in it. She's made a marvelous, moving time capsule, a film "like a still photo," about a fledgling on her way to being a woman.

Lady Bird
Blu-ray/DVD Set

Louise Adams is a Chicago freelance writer at www.treefalls.com (and a nom de guerre).


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