With five Oscar nominations and a 99 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Lady Bird has a lot going for it.
The coming-of-age dramedy is written and directed by mumblecore specialist Greta Gerwig, and she borrows a lot from the subgenre.
The film follows roughly a year in the life of 17-year-old Sacramento student Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson.
Set in 2002, Lady Bird explores the title character’s relationships with her parents, best friends and first romances.
Exceptional actress – and three-time Oscar nominee – Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, Brooklyn) sheds her native Irish accent for the perky Sacramento tongue of Lady Bird in a memorable performance.
Lady Bird is not the most likable character – she’s immature, self-obsessed and rarely spares a thought for the feelings of those around her.
But she has room to grow and the film presents her with many obstacles to overcome.
One of Lady Bird’s greatest strengths is its relatability.
The simple struggles feel real, the betrayal and regret hit home.
Much of this comes down to the on point casting of a fantastic troupe of young and seasoned actors.
Laurie Metcalf – also an Oscar nominee – plays the role of an exasperated but loving mother perfectly.
She not just ‘the mother’, she’s a fully fleshed-out, rough-around-the-edges, flawed, real person.
Actor and writer Tracy Letts (August: Osage County) is also brilliant as Lady Bird’s father in a smaller but no less important role.
Call Me By Your Name best actor Oscar nominee Timothee Chalamet also fills out the cast, along with 2017 best supporting actor nominee Lucas Hedges (Manchester By the Sea), Jonah Hill’s sister Beanie Feldstein, veteran stage actor Stephen Henderson, True Blood alum Lois Smith and Goosebumps youngster Odeya Rush.
Lady Bird is not a big, sweeping tale and it’s not a film driven by plot.
It’s a charming, realistic look at young adulthood, at taking responsibility and navigating interpersonal relationships.
That said, it faces tough competition at this year’s Oscars and probably won’t take home any statues.