This is not a film about LBJ’s wife, Lady Bird Johnson.
At first, I thought that this was a biopic, but, after seeing a recent trailer, I realized that I was wrong. Instead, it is a coming of age story about a young girl and her struggles in school, in family and in life.
The film is very well done. Honestly, there is not a huge plot involved here. It is basically the senior year in high school for “Lady Bird” Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) and the family struggles that she faced. Her mother is played by Laurie Metcalf, who is remarkable here. Metcalf, whether she is in sitcoms like Roseanne or the Big Bang Theory or movies like Toy Story or Meet the Robinsons, is always fantastic. Here is just more of the same from her. Great work.
I also enjoyed the work of the actor playing Lady Bird’s father, Tracy Letts. I recognized him in the film, but I wasn’t able to place him. He was very solid as the older man who had to struggle with depression and tried to avoid being overwhelmed by the more dominant Metcalf. He was softer and quieter and very compelling.
There were plenty of typical scenes you would see in a coming of age story revolving around the final year of high school. Lady Bird wanted to escape from Sacramento to the east coast, but her mother was against that. In fact, her mother found many passive aggressive ways to get a message across to Lady Bird that had the teen ready to get out of the house. There was the first sexual encounter with the band member. There is a school play and musical. There is the friend who turns out gay. There is a lot of dealing with the differing class structure of the school, with Lady Bird and her family certainly on the lower level of money.
While many of these topics are dealt with in other coming of age stories, they fit together very nicely with the strong performance of Ronan, which makes these topics fresh. Ronan and Metcalf are excellent together and you can feel the connection between them. It’s one of those things that make you think these two women are too much alike to really get along with one another.
There is something in this film that everyone will relate to and that is what makes Lady Bird special. It has a great relationship, albeit negative many times, between Lady Bird and her mother and the movie rides that relationship throughout.