I didn't know a lot about Greta Gerwig, save her terrific acting performance as Abbie in "20th Century Women" and her role in Russell Brand's misbegotten remake of "Arthur" back in 2011.
She's on my radar now as a gifted writer/director after watching her incredible 2017 film LADY BIRD.
At its heart is the story of a mother/daughter relationship, merged with a brilliant coming of age story set in 2002 Sacramento.
Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn, Atonement) stars as Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson. 17, feeling strangled by her ordinary life in the inland CA town, she dreams of a very different life.
Her mother Marion is perfectly played by Laurie Metcalf (three time Emmy winner for "Rosanne"). Often pulling double shifts as a nurse at a psychiatric hospital, Marion struggles with paying the bills and constantly battles Lady Bird's expectations. The two women are so alike, they can't breathe the same air.
Lady Bird's father Larry is played by gifted 'August Osage County" writer Tracy Letts. Dealing with depression and always playing middle man between his wife and daughter, Larry's exhausted.
We meet Lady Bird's closest friends at the Catholic school she attends and everyone of them are perfectly cast.
Lucas Hedges (so good in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri as well this year) is Lady Bird's first crush when they meet in drama class.
Timothy Chalamet (Oscar nominated this year for "Call Me By My Name") is Lady Bird's second crush Kyle, who carries every bit of 2002 post-911 America angst on his conspiracy theory laden shoulders.
Newcomer Beanie Feldstein is terrific as Lady Bird's best friend Julie. It's a testament to Gerwig's screenplay that every interaction of these high schoolers feels authentic, never scripted.
Lois Smith (Minority Report) is a scene stealer as Sister Sarah Joan. Her interactions with Lady Bird are some of my favorite in the film.
Gerwig doesn't hit a false note in any scene, introducing a real young woman facing a critical time in her life and coming of age in all the fun, exciting, painful and awkward ways that each of us remember in our own lives.
I really enjoyed this movie. Watching Ronan and Metcalf play off each other, battling their way through the teenage years is powerful. It's painful at times to watch these two strong women tear at each other, sometimes with humor, sometimes in silence.
This is a funny, sweet movie.
My only complaint? I wish it lasted longer, these are characters that I wanted to spend more time with and it ended too soon.
I can't wait to see what Greta Gerwig does next.
Lady Bird's terrific and gets an A+.