Lady Bird begins with an epigraph, a Joan Didion quote about Sacramento, which proved perfectly suited as this movie hit me as hard and in the same way as Slouching Toward Bethlehem. It has that same deft portraiture of a particular place and time (the same place, the time 40 years on), that same extraordinary insight into people and what they do, that humor, that confession, that skillfulness in how it is told. Greta Gerwig has discovered how to film the way Joan Didion writes, and we are going to be so much wiser for it. It’s so strong, it’s so funny, it’s so perfectly crafted, it’s so GOOD.
I’m not sure when in the runtime I started crying at something in every scene, but I remember accepting that it was just going to be my life right now, vaguely hoping that my chair wasn’t shaking too obviously. Mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters, best friends, first boyfriends, second boyfriends, trying to be your own friend — it’s a slice of life, and those can cut so deep.
Lady Bird is about the place you grew up, and needing to leave it, and how that’s okay. And how even though you may not want it be, that place is a part of you, and that’s okay too. It’s about love. It’s about, gently and surprisingly, faith. It’s about making mistakes over and over again. It’s about making who you are. It will also probably make Saoirse Ronan, who has been on the make since she was a child, and here shows just how much she can be. She’s brilliant and perfect, in the midst of a hilarious, wildly skillful cast that leaps up to meet her, every single person costumed impeccably. I am preemptively miffed about whoever designed Phantom Thread winning out over April Napier at the Oscars.
But right now this movie’s out there gathering up accolades and plaudits like armfuls of wildflowers, and I’m pumped about it, I’m so glad, I feel emboldened. We can give names too, like One of the Year’s Best.