Lady Bird | Episode 75.5

Posted November 17, 2017

On this new mini-episode, Noah and Chance discuss "Lady Bird," the witty and affecting new film portrait of a teenage girl's last lap around Catholic high school in 2002 Sacramento. The directorial debut from Greta Gerwig has garnered near-universal acclaim, and we add our voices to that choir, praising the film's accessible star performance and appreciating how Sacramento makes both for a great anywhere and a hyper-specific somewhere. Visit for some writing and all our episodes.

* * *

Chance d43ba60f826c7e3ff3f61eff155c145731209ae51f7ac455a2ed7c05138c0986


Technical quality
Entertainment value
Noah 606ff8e5e06afdd7cb15bea0b81ec00cb6a381d8d0ee86ce471744515a0e6c0d
Lady poster

-review by Chance Solem-Pfeifer

I don't really like wielding the phrase “coming-of-age story” like a mighty artistic classifier, like I'm throwing a paperback copy of The Catcher In the Rye into a stiff breeze to see if it flies. I'd rather watch adulthood encroach on a teenager from the edges of a filmic portrait than witness somebody actually grow up. Teenagers might be more whole, more defined than we know, and they're just learning how to bend to and with an expanding world. That’s Lady Bird — a character profile of Christine (but this Saoirse Ronan protagonist wants you to call her “Lady Bird”) during her senior year at a Sacramento Catholic high school circa 2002.

Greta Gerwig’s debut as a writer-director flips the pages of Lady Bird’s 17th year like a photo book, at an enthusiastic, but still easy pace. Lady Bird is in a play. She meets her first boyfriend. She lies to a rich kid about what house she lives in. She briefly takes up clove cigarettes. She argues with her mom (Lori Metcalf) about not being allowed to drive. She doesn’t want to go to state colleges. She gets her driver’s license in the end.

Perhaps the greatest victory of Gerwig’s script is that she’s managed to actually capture a teenage dialect that all-too-easily leaves the adult ear, that hybrid voice between childhood and adulthood we forget we even lost. Lady Bird and her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) take pauses. They try on different voices. They start to say something profound and end their sentences abruptly. The script doesn’t force them to speak like young people who are intellectualizing their own experience. That’s the greatest evolution here from Gerwig’s last two scripts with Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha and Mistress America), and certainly from Baumbach's style of hyper-literate writing in general.

Though it’ll probably be talked about in tandem with the forthcoming Call Me By Your Name as a great 2017 coming-of-age story (look, the Salinger, it’s flying!), I think it’s just as appropriate to call Lady Bird easily the best high school movie of the last decade. The fact that this A24 fare is not aimed at the MTV teen audiences of the time in which Lady Bird is actually set has nothing to do with the fact that it renders a high school, its geography, its staff, its dynamics, its cliques, and its feuds with more clarity than any film that would take you on a more structured social tour of the school. (“These are the jocks, burnouts, etc.”)

Consider this a glowing recommendation, and if you’re worried for a moment that Gerwig is not your cup of over-talking, performatively insecure tea, worry not. All at once, Gerwig has proven she can capture the real with more comfort and precision as a writer-director than as an actor. Meanwhile, Ronan embodies what would be the Gerwig role with naturalism, self-belief, and a charming combination of salt and fire. Best known for her performance in the 2015 drama Brooklyn, Ronan accomplishes something remarkably similar here, playing a teenager reacting to her world with impulsivity, observation, and heart.

Lady Bird is a movie that’s goodness is more than apparent, but its greatness is harder to pin down. And I’ll argue its simplicity, emotional care and lack of pretense are all part of what makes it so great. It’s a collage approach to filmmaking that isn’t breaking a sweat. It’s a first-time director just as adept at visual comedy as her script is with wit. Other than the self-evident moral that you should love the people who love you as best you can, the film never insists on its themes. This is Sacramento, after all, not Los Angeles. People will appeal to authority your whole life; appreciate the mundane while it's still new to you. 


All The Movies We've Reviewed

101 Dalmatians
10 Cloverfield Lane
10 Things I Hate About You
127 Hours
22 Jump Street
47 Meters Down
Across The Universe
A Dangerous Method
A Few Good Men
Air Force One
A League of Their Own
Alien 3
Alien: Covenant
Alien: Resurrection
American Animals
American Hustle
American Made
American Psycho
American Splendor
A Simple Plan
A Single Man
A Star Is Born
Atomic Blonde
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
AVP: Alien Vs. Predator
Baby Driver
Baby Mama
Bad Company
Bad Lieutenant
Bad Moms
Bad Santa
Basic Instinct
Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Beasts of No Nation
Beauty And The Beast
Before Sunrise
Behind Enemy Lines
Black Hawk Down
Black Mass
Black Panther
Blade Runner 2049
Bleed For This
Body Heat
Boogie Nights
Bridge of Spies
Bull Durham
Call Me By Your Name
Captain Fantastic
Catch Me If You Can
Chariots Of Fire
Chasing Amy
Child's Play
Christmas Vacation
Cinderella Man
Con Air
Cool Runnings
Crazy Rich Asians
Crimson Tide
Danny Collins
Dante's Peak
Dead Poets Society
Deep Blue Sea
Deep Impact
Deja Vu
Demolition Man
Dirty Dancing
Donnie Brasco
Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot
Dude, Where's My Car?
Easy A
Eddie The Eagle
Ed Wood
Employee of the Month
Erin Brockovich
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Event Horizon
Everybody Wants Some!!
Executive Decision
Ex Machina
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
Fatal Attraction
Field Of Dreams
Finding Forrester
For Love Of The Game
Friday Night Lights
Game Night
Gangs of New York
Garden State
Gone Girl
Gone In Sixty Seconds
Grosse Pointe Blank
Hail, Caesar!
Half Baked
Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
Head of State
He Got Game
Hocus Pocus
Hollywood Ending
Hot Tub Time Machine
How High
Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Ingrid Goes West
Inherent Vice
Inside Man
Inside Out
In The Land Of Women
In The Line of Fire
Into The Wild
I, Tonya
Jaws: The Revenge
John Wick
Jurassic Park III
Jurassic World
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Kill Bill, Vol. 1
King Cobra
Kingdom Of Heaven
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Lady Bird
La La Land
Leave No Trace
Less Than Zero
Lethal Weapon
Little Miss Sunshine
Love & Mercy
Love, Simon
Mad Max: Fury Road
Mamma Mia
Matchstick Men
Midnight Special
Million Dollar Arm
Mission: Impossible
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible II
Mission: Impossible III
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Mississippi Grind
Mo' Better Blues
Mom and Dad
Money For Nothing
Moonrise Kingdom
Mr. Mom
Murder at 1600
My Cousin Vinny
National Lampoon's Vacation
Never Say Never
Ocean's Twelve
Old School
One Hour Photo
Open Water
Orange County
Out of Africa
Part of Me
Peter's Friends
Phantom Thread
Picture Perfect
Practical Magic
Public Enemies
Purple Rain
Raising Arizona
Red Dragon
Red Eye
Red Sparrow
Remember The Titans
Reversal Of Fortune
Rock Of Ages
Run All Night
Save The Last Dance
School Ties
Scream 2
Simply Complicated
Sleepaway Camp
Small Soldiers
Snakes On A Plane
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Southside With You
Space Jam
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
State and Main
Step Up
Steve Jobs
Sweet Home Alabama
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Addams Family
The Big Chill
The Big Sick
The Bling Ring
The Brady Bunch Movie
The Campaign
The Cell
The Cloverfield Paradox
The Color of Money
The Disaster Artist
The End of the Tour
The Family Man
The Fast and The Furious
The Fighter
The Flintstones
The Fly
The Fog
The Fugitive
The Fundamentals of Caring
The Hateful Eight
The Hate U Give
The Holiday
The Hours
The Hunt For Red October
The Illusionist
The Indian In The Cupboard
The Insider
The Judge
The Jungle Book
The Last of the Mohicans
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
The Martian
The Matrix
The Matrix Reloaded
The Matrix Revolutions
The Meg
The Mexican
The Mighty Ducks
The Mission
The Mosquito Coast
The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Natural
The Negotiator
The Nice Guys
The Night Before
The Pagemaster
The Perfect Storm
The Poseidon Adventure
The Prestige
The Queen
The Recruit
The Revenant
The River Wild
The Royal Tenenbaums
The Rules of Attraction
The Shadow
The Shallows
The Sixth Sense
The Social Network
The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three
The Thing
The Truman Show
The Watch
The Witches of Eastwick
This Is Where I Leave You
¬°Three Amigos!
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
To All The Boys I've Loved Before
Tropic Thunder
Van Wilder
Varsity Blues
V For Vendetta
Welcome To Me
While You Were Sleeping
White House Down
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Wild Things
Wild Wild West
Win It All
Without A Paddle
Wyatt Earp
Young Adult
Zack and Miri Make a Porno