Dec 1, 2017
I've always been fascinated to see what happens when a prominent actor or actress decides to take a seat behind the camera and make a truly personal artistic statement. From the stunningly dark visuals and spirit of Charles Laughton's 1955 moody masterpiece "Night of the Hunter" to Clint Eastwood's moody 1971 thriller "Play Misty for Me," on down through Tom Hanks' 1996 showbiz dramedy "That Thing You Do!" and Jason Bateman's 2013 comedy "Bad Words," a solid directorial debut offers intriguing insights into their creative process and true passions.
Yet even among these acclaimed and often beloved films, few stand out as more self-assured and personal than indie goddess Greta Gerwig's current writing-directing debut, "Lady Bird." Coming off a string of acclaimed cult comedies in which she delivered a series of performances that were giddy, goofy and earnest all at once, it would have been easy to assume that any creation of Gerwig would be a lightweight soufflé.
Surprisingly, her debut film, "Lady Bird," while seemingly just another coming-of-age story set against a backdrop of 1980s rock and pop music, achieves some serious emotional resonance. Depicting the senior year of a gawky yet cute teenage girl in 1983 Sacramento who calls herself "Lady Bird," the movie provides a wise and affecting look at teenagers trying to figure their place in the world.
It's also a powerful portrait of the bond between mothers and daughters and – even rarer – a respectful homage to small-town life and the close emotional connections it can bring.