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Critics reviews
Lady Bird
Greta Gerwig United States, 2017
Gerwig gives us a portrait of a young girl in a genre of movies so often populated by boys’ stories. The film succeeds in both showing the subtleties of her character as a young woman and in giving real detail to the characters who surround her.
April 19, 2018
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Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird is populated by actors who, like Gerwig herself, can do no wrong. That enhances the film’s goody-goody quality, which falls over the movie like a warm blanket.
April 19, 2018
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While there is an acute authorial intelligence informing the transitions between scenes, the steady trot of clipped vignettes comes to seem monotonous and somewhat evasive. . . . None of this is accidental; Gerwig is too smart a writer to coincidentally open a movie of deflections and escapes with a scene of dramatic conflict avoidance. The sense of retreat is true to the film’s central character; it’s simply that I wish the director would, just once, give pursuit.
February 16, 2018
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You stole my life! Greta Gerwig wails at the climax of MISTRESS AMERICA. . . . I came out of LADY BIRD, Gerwig’s solo directorial debut, and expressed much the same sentiment. It’s not just that the story is set in Sacramento, the town where I grew up, or that its central character, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), yearns to escape high school in the Operation Iraqi Freedom winter of 2003, a year before I graduated. Every single detail in this movie is right.
February 02, 2018
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Watching Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird in a cinema offers something rare: being part of an audience as it discovers a fantastic talent. It swiftly becomes clear that every scene, every performance is going to land, and the communal joy keeps increasing. It isn’t Gerwig’s first outing as a director or as a screenwriter, but her prior efforts were co-credits. Lady Bird is all hers.
January 03, 2018
Gerwig’s characters bristle with honesty and her open-hearted sincerity endear them to audiences alike everywhere. It is no surprise that Lady Bird is A24’s highest grossing feature. We can all relate to having a dream and chasing that opportunity. We’re lucky that Greta Gerwig seems to have accomplished hers.
January 03, 2018
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The movie is about reconciliation, and in its world view reconciliation involves recognizing who your blood is. It means finally understanding that it’s a shitty thing to tell your mother that you will pay her back all the money she spent on your upbringing just so that you yourself may have the privilege of never having to speak to her again. . . . Directorially, Gerwig never puts a foot wrong. Lady Bird is very assured and very much believes in the effects it wants to achieve.
November 28, 2017
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Will I ever forgive the movie for getting Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash Into Me” re-stuck in my head after so many years of denial over my love for that song, or for reminding me, in a very pointed way, of what it was like to feel like a failure and a dweeb in high school who just wanted to escape? Nope! Too real—which is a sign the movie is onto something. When it ended, I relished the feeling that I had seen someone grow up before my eyes. Most of all, though, I simply wanted to keep watching.
November 04, 2017
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Gerwig understands that one of the most important parts of growing up is learning to think about people other than yourself. After reading Lady Bird’s college application essay, the principal (Lois Smith) observes that her love of Sacramento came across loud and clear. Lady Bird responds that she wasn’t trying to express love: all she did was “pay attention.” This is Gerwig’s gift as a writer and as a director. She knows that love and paying attention are essentially the same thing.
November 03, 2017
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Gerwig isn’t a particularly showy director — though she makes the big moments count — but her one devastatingly effective touch is to sketch the film through deft little mini-montages that capture the essence of a location or a situation without dwelling for too long. It’s like she has a notebook full of vivid anecdotes to share and a larger picture emerges from them, like pointillist filmmaking.
November 02, 2017
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Gerwig proceeds with a self-assurance, but unlike her young protagonist she has both a clear vision of the result she wants and a command of the tools to achieve it. Lady Bird ends with its heroine making a small, uncharacteristically humble gesture that suggests she’s finally ready to grow up and become the woman she was meant to be. Greta Gerwig is already there.
November 02, 2017
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Gerwig’s restrained direction emerges from the very ideas in the film. The aesthetic of “Lady Bird,” its emotional and dramatic legibility, is a realism of morality, an utterly uncynical but clear-eyed sense of the responsibilities that come with the kind of money that it takes to make such a film, the kind of stylistic and tonal expectations that a movie of this sort creates and should fulfill in order for it to take its place in the field—and for Gerwig to take her apt place there along with it.
November 02, 2017
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There are tons of movies about coming of age in the suburbs, but few are as astute as Lady Bird when it comes to class. Even so, the movie–set in Sacramento circa 2002–is more universal than it is insular… Lady Bird’s performances are all lovely, which you could chalk up to smart casting. But maybe it’s also that Gerwig is kind of like the cartoon Sleeping Beauty, good at breezily orchestrating the special gifts of each bird in the forest.
November 02, 2017
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The Irish Ronan, not too many years older than her character, shades Lady Bird’s guilelessness with grit and self-deprecation—an inviolate core shared by Eilis, the Hibernian immigrant the actress played in Brooklyn (2015), a lush 1950s period piece… Lady Bird is an assured first film, confidence that may come from the fact that some of its motifs were sketched out not so long ago.
October 27, 2017
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There’s an eccentric individualism to Gerwig’s nimble approach to form and flow of dialogue. Gerwig also boldly rejects the idea that stories about teenage girls have to focus on romance. Instead, Lady Bird’s arc centers on the quest for a sense of self, which speaks to the importance of having female directors tackle stories from their own points of view.
October 14, 2017
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The film’s broader shift in perspective is its most impressive, as its sympathies gradually tilt from Lady Bird, a teen desperate to transcend her upbringing, to Marion, a mother who sacrifices her time and her body for her family without reward… A uniquely American comedy, Lady Bird is testy, humane, and firmly rooted in its time and place.
October 07, 2017
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Like Louis CK, Gerwig slips in and out and around her story’s (more identifiable) beats through sharp and fresh writing, and an all-star cast: Laurie Metcalf as mom, Tracy Letts as dad, Lois Smith as a nun at school, theater old hands all. Ronan finally takes a part that isn’t vaguely otherworldly, and shines; It-Kid Timothée Chalamet plays a too-cool arty crush to perfection. Lady Bird won’t set the world on fire, but it does leave it a warmer place.
September 22, 2017
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The film’s got a slew of teenage-girl drama beats… but somehow Gerwig manages to make the many emotional arcs and moving narrative parts all work flawlessly… It’s like Gerwig knows she doesn’t have a lot of time to work with in a film narrative, so she wisely amps up the pace of the narrative and the barrel of raillery to ensure we can keep up and actually enjoy her cinematic joie de vivre.
September 18, 2017
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Gerwig has routinely described the story as semi-autobiographical, and that may be true, but one of the things that’s so likable about Lady Bird is how generously its writer-director cedes things to her cast… At this point, Gerwig is far too visible for Lady Bird to count as any kind of “discovery,” and yet, of all the movies leaving Toronto with momentum, it’s the one whose moments of spontaneity feel the least engineered—like they’ve been pulled by the filmmaker out of thin air.
September 18, 2017
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An actress and occasional screenwriter best known for her work in Noah Baumbach’s movies, Ms. Gerwig turns out to be a natural filmmaker. Her solo directorial debut, “Lady Bird” is flat-out wonderful, as well as one of the best coming-of-age films since Amy Heckerling’s 1982 classic "Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
September 15, 2017
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Greta Gerwig’s debut feature is like something akin to asking a classmate to sign your yearbook and getting a detailed novella in return, or a pink plaster cast scrawled with a poem. It’s also proof that Gerwig is clearly her own muse.
September 06, 2017
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