A rebellious young woman (Saoirse Ronan) navigates the pressures and constraints of Catholic school and life in Sacremento, in Greta Gerwig's solo directorial debut.
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Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan, also appearing at this year's Festival in On Chesil Beach) — affectionately known and self-proclaimed as Lady Bird — is an ambitious, bright, and precocious high school senior. Longing to break free of suburban Sacramento, she dreams of a different life full of east coast skyscrapers, Ivy League universities, and cosmopolitan culture.
With modest grades and no alumni connections to speak of, Lady Bird needs extracurriculars to beef up her college applications. Joining the drama club leads to new friends (sometimes at the expense of old ones), first loves, and a social life in full swing. Dealing with her critical mother and succeeding at math do not come as easily. With her dad recently laid off, her mom working double shifts as a nurse, and her brother and his girlfriend — Berkeley grads — working at the supermarket, she is keenly aware that post–high school life is no walk in the park. Old enough to appreciate what she has, but not always mature enough to show it, sometimes she just wants to go shopping for her prom dress rather than putting her clothes away.
Navigating the awkward space between adolescence and adulthood, Lady Bird, splendidly brought to life by Ronan, is a character to whom we can all relate. With her solo directorial debut, Greta Gerwig continues the charm and wit of her previous screenwriting work — think Frances Ha and Mistress America but with a more sophisticated approach to character and interpersonal relationships. Incredibly personal and immensely relatable, Lady Bird is sure to be one of the defining coming-of-age films of its generation.