(Last UPDATED 3/8/19) Description and review of Lady Bird, a coming-of-age film written and directed by Sacramento native Greta Gerwig.
Lady Bird, the new film written and directed by Sacramento native Greta Gerwig, 34, is not only an exceptionally well done and touching coming-of-age story – it is also clearly a love letter to Sacramento.
It was a spur of the moment decision to head over to the Tower Theatre on Sunday for the first showing of Lady Bird. I had been painting my living room and dining room nonstop for days – and felt I deserved a treat. Everyone deserves a day of rest I reasoned – even if Thanksgiving, which I am hosting, is almost upon us.
In addition to the crowd generated by good reviews and the local angle, the adjacent Tower Café is a very popular Sunday morning breakfast venue. I was, however, lucky enough to secure a spot in the parking lot.
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When the movie was about to start I looked around and was impressed with the size of the audience. I was obviously not the only one who thought seeing Lady Bird was a good way to spend a Sunday late morning/early afternoon.
The Tower Theatre, a Sacramento landmark, hosted the local premier of Lady Bird a few days before the film opened nationally – which was fitting. The film first premiered at the Toronto Film Festival to positive reviews.
Lady Bird – The Movie
Lady Bird is a coming-of-age film that will make you laugh at times and may also bring a tear to your eyes. It explores and lays bare the essence of being a teenager – not always a pretty sight. Friendship, first love, and the relationship between parents, children and siblings are all explored.
The complicated relationship between mother and daughter is a central theme. The angst between parent and child is in real life not uncommon – especially when a parent and child are more alike than not.
The lead character Christine McPherson wants to be addressed as “Lady Bird”. She is a rebellious and self-centered teen. Lady Bird also has ambitions that go beyond attending a local college and staying in Sacramento. She is in her senior year at a local Catholic high school – and she longs to go to a distant college, preferably on the East Coast.
Her parents are of modest means, and struggle financially especially after Lady Bird’s father loses his job. Lady Bird’s mother, a psychiatric nurse, often works two shifts to help make ends meet.
Sending Lady Bird to an all-girl Catholic school is expensive, but her parents are willing to make sacrifices in order to do what they think is in her best interest. As one might expect from a self-centered teen – Lady Bird does not fully appreciate their efforts.
It is only after leaving home for college on the other side of the country that an appreciation for what and who she has left behind starts to blossom as “Christine” is on her own – and starts to learn from her mistakes and mature.
Lady Bird’s Sacramento
Sacramento plays a key role in Lady Bird. Yes, Sacramento is located in California. No, Sacramento does not fit the stereotype of how many non-Californians think of California.
To make that point, Gerwig starts her film with a quote from well-known Sacramento native and writer Joan Didion.
“Anybody who talks about California hedonism has never spent a Christmas in Sacramento.”
Sacramento residents will recognize many of the places in the film – which was partially filmed here. Well-known landmarks such as the McKinley Park Rose Garden, Tower Theatre, Crest Theatre and the Tower Bridge make an appearance or two.
Those familiar with Sacramento will also recognize the stately homes in the Fab 40’s, the tree-lined streets of East Sacramento, the American River, and several Midtown Sacramento businesses – as well as the glimpse of the airport.
Sacramento’s Greta Gerwig
Greta Gerwig both wrote and directed Lady Bird. She was born in Sacramento and grew up in River Park. Like Lady Bird, Gerwig attended Catholic school (Saint Francis High School).
Also like Lady Bird, after graduating from high school Gerwig left Sacramento to attend college in New York. She studied philosophy at Barnard College in New York City.
Gerwig has starred in a number of indie films, including “Mistress America” and “Francis Ha”. Lady Bird is her directorial debut.
While Gerwig now lives in New York, there is no doubt that Sacramento hold a special place in her heart. I highly recommend the movie.
See related blog post: Mural Honors Lady Bird
(3/8/19) An East Sacramento Fab 40’s home that had a cameo appearance in the film “Lady Bird” was recently sold for $3.35 million – believed to be a record price for East Sacramento. The modernized home on 45th Street is approximately 6,200 square feet and sits on a bit over a half-acre. The house was built in the 1940’s and features six bedrooms, six and a half bathrooms, a pool and pool house, library, wine cellar and more. The home was purchased by a family with children now living in the neighborhood wanting to move to a larger home.
(4/22/18) On April 19, Greta Gerwig was named to the Time 100 Most Influential People of 2018 list!
(7/3/18) Several media outlets have recently reported that Greta Gerwig has been tapped to direct the latest remake of Little Women. Actors named as “in discussions” to be part of the project include Saoirse Ronan. Also named are Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Timothee Chalamet and Florance Pugh. Streep will reportedly play Aunt March and Ronan will play Jo. Speculation is that Stone will play Meg, Pugh will play the youngest sister Amy, and Laurie will be played by Chalamet. That makes sense to me! There is talk of a Fall 2019 release date.
75th Annual Golden Globe Awards
At the Annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony held on Sunday, January 7th, Lady Bird won both Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy and lead actress Saoirse Ronan won Best Actress, Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy!
Greta Gerwig, onstage with the cast and crew of Lady Bird, thanked all involved in the production of the movie and said, “I want to say thank you to my mom and dad and the people of Sacramento who gave me roots and wings and helped me to get where I am today.”
Directors Guild Award
Greta Gerwig lost out on the Director Guild Award to Guillermo del Toro for “The Shape of Water”.
2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards
Lady Bird received several nominations for the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards! On March 3, Greta Gerwig won the award for Best Screenplay for Lady Bird.
Nominations for Lady Bird, Lady Bird cast and Gerwig:
- Lady Bird was nominated in the Best Feature category
- Greta Gerwig was nominated for the Best Screenplay
- Saoirse Ronan was nominated for Best Female Lead, and
- Laurie Mercalf has been nominated as the Best Supporting Female
Lady Bird was nominated for five Academy Awards! The Academy Awards ceremony aired on March 4.
- Lady Bird was nominated for Best Picture;
- Greta Gerwig was nominated for Best Director;
- Greta Gerwig was nominated for Best Writing, Original Screenplay;
- Saoirse Ronan was nominated as Best Actress, Leading Role;
- Laurie Metcalf was nominated as Best Actress, Supporting Role.
Unfortunately, Lady Bird did not take home a single Oscar.
- Best Picture was won by “The Shape of Water.”
- Best Actress was won by Frances McDormand for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
- Best Supporting Actress was won by Allison Janney for “I, Tonya.”
- Best Original Screenplay was won by “Get Out.”
- Best Director was won by Guillermo del Toro for “The Shape of Water.”
- Greta Gerwig is only the fifth woman nominated for Best Director. She joins Lina Wertmuller for “Seven Beauties” (1976), Jane Campion for “The Piano” (1993), Sofia Coppola for “Lost in Translation” (2003) and Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” (2009).
- The film Lady Bird received an impressive “Certified Fresh 99%” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Comments on Lady Bird?
If you have had the opportunity to see Lady Bird – what comments would you add?
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