Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird is a stirring coming-of-age story focusing on the relationship between a high school senior and her mother. Saoirse Ronan plays Christine, but insists that everyone call her “Lady Bird”. Her relationship with her mother, played by the excellent Laurie Metcalf, is fraught with complications – just like any mother-daughter relationship. Gerwig’s story has obvious autobiographical aspects, lending the film a refreshing matter-of-fact feeling. Lady Bird is a flawed protagonist, and her mother isn’t perfect either. Still, Lady Bird grows up a lot in the last year of high school, despite all the awkward romances and familial tension. Though detractors may classify Lady Bird as a film that doesn’t take many risks, its themes are timeless, perfectly executed, and packed with realism. Lady Bird is a resounding success from a first-time director, a seemingly-effortless bit of cinematic mastery.
I Don’t Feel at Home in the World Anymore captures that peculiar modern feeling that the world is a frustrating and mean place – but that ordinary folks can stand up and push back, though sometimes with hilarious and awkward results. Writer-director Macon Blair’s film contains bleak humor, affecting drama, and a bumbling crime story. The sad-sack characters and story compares well with Jeremy Saulnier’s film Blue Ruin, where Blair played the lead. Blair’s aesthetic is very much in line with his friend’s, but let’s be clear: Blair’s work in this film is not counterfeit Saulnier. Though they share sensibilities, Blair’s film is far more sarcastic and funny, which makes the harsher elements of the film pop quite effectively.