by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent
Raise your hand if you think Soairse Ronan should have won Best Actress for BROOKLYN. Anyone? Yes, it’s an exercise in futility since Ronan was only a nominee in 2016. Lucky for her, Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut LADY BIRD, from A24 films and just shown at the Telluride Film Festival, is where Soairse gets redeemed.
Or, you could say given a second chance to make a first impression as an emerging woman trapped inside the body of a high school girl. LADY BIRD looks to be the Oscar moon shot for both lead and director, plus a likely script nomination since Gerwig wrote the film based on (but not verbatim) her own life history.
Growing up in Sacramento, Geriwg ended up at Barnard College and into acting. A kind of low-budget, not even indie acting turn with some non-actors, also known as genre “Mumblecore” in the trade. Yet, she’s been Mumblecore-no-more for quite some time.
This movie, with its piercing portrait of mash-up mother/daughter/friend roles is why Gerwig can now be forgiven for that awful remake of ARTHUR (2011), the Dudley Moore classic, that she and Russell Brand trounced to death in their sequel. Sorry, Hobson, Helen Mirren was the only actor to survive that remake with her dignity intact, and only because she dies in the movie, sneaking out before its cloying crescendo.
But back to LADY BIRD. What an exciting way to enter the Big Arena — that being the stomping ground of coveted Writer/Director credit holders. LADY BIRD features roles by Lois Smith, the darling mastermind of MINORITY REPORT whose plants snap Tom Cruise in her poisoned garden, and Laurie Metcalf as the Mom. Metcalf has just gotten better and better since her “Roseanne” TV days.
Gerwig, who just turned 34 on Aug.4, will also be known by many people as the star of FRANCES HA, directed by Noah Baumbach. Baumbach is the skilled director of SQUID AND THE WHALE, also a personal favorite film starring ex-wife Jennifer Jason Leigh, MARGOT AT THE WEDDING.
Why mention Baumbach? Because he and Gerwig have been a couple *since* his split from Leigh, which looks to have started with the making of GREENBERG, where Greta had a role.
Short story is, they’ve been a couple since 2011, and Gerwig has definitely blossomed into a director during this time.
LADY BIRD is being billed as a “coming-of-age” story, but it’s really a coming out story for Greta Gerwig, leaving the shadow of Baumbach. Even the language in the script, how the dialogue is structured, sounds like real-life, her real voice.
So watch for this film to make its Oscar run during Award Season coming up. (And don’t feel sorry for Daisy Domergue, she lives on as a huge talent on screen.)
Here’s a Quick Telluride Look Into LADY BIRD from A24
How A24 Describes Their New Film Is Like So…
Greta Gerwig makes her directing debut with a touching mother-daughter tale for the ages.
In Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig reveals herself to be a bold new cinematic voice with her directorial debut, excavating both the humor and pathos in the turbulent bond between a mother and her teenage daughter. Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) fights against but is exactly like her wildly loving, deeply opinionated and strong-willed mom (Laurie Metcalf), a nurse working tirelessly to keep her family afloat after Lady Bird’s father (Tracy Letts) loses his job. Set in Sacramento, California in 2002, amidst a rapidly shifting American economic landscape, Lady Bird is an affecting look at the relationships that shape us, the beliefs that define us, and the unmatched beauty of a place called home.
Written and Directed by: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Lois Smith
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