Gerwig, Ronan and Metcalf give “Lady Bird” life
Blu-ray, DVD and Digital copy; 2017; R for language, sexual content, brief graphic nudity and teen partying; streaming via Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube
Best extra: Commentary with writer/director Greta Gerwig and Cinematographer Sam Levy
It might as well be Saskatchewan, or Timbuktu, to the lead character in “Lady Bird,” high school senior Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan).
Being disconnected to your hometown, fighting tirelessly with your mother, wanting to escape the minute you turn 18, are a part of growing up for many teenagers, according to Greta Gerwig, who wrote and made her directorial debut with “Lady Bird.”
But Gerwig, who grew up in California’s state capital, Sacramento, didn't realize how good she had it until she left. The same happens for Lady Bird. Getting to that point in this coming-of-age film, set in 2002, is both tender and funny. But it doesn’t mean Lady Bird loses her desire to experience the world in other places. She stays true to herself.
For Ronan, the comedic parts of the film flummoxed her given her acting history in such dramas as “The Lovely Bones,” “Brooklyn” and “Atonement.”
In the Blu-ray disc’s feature commentary, Gerwig tells her to play it straight. And it works. Ronan received her third Academy Award nomination -- for Best Performance for an Actress in a Leading Role for Lady Bird” and “Brooklyn” and Supporting Actress for “Atonement.”
Gerwig's debut feature film as the director/writer landed her an Academy Award Best Director and Best Original Screenplay nomination at this year’s awards ceremony. She is only the fifth woman to be nominated for an Oscar for best director in the academy’s 90 years. (Only one of the five has won, Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” in 2010. Bigelow beat ex-husband James Cameron that year for his movie, “Avatar.”)
While Ronan and Gerwig didn’t score Academy Awards, both won Golden Globes, Ronan for Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy and Gerwig for Best Picture, Musical or Comedy.
Unfortunately, Laurie Metcalf didn’t earn an Academy Award or Golden Globe for her brutally honest portrayal of Lady Bird’s often-controlling mother, Marion. Her wordless scenes are heartbreaking for any mother/daughter combo.
As for the extras, “Realizing ‘Lady Bird’” is standard bonus fare. These include interviews with Gerwig, one-on-ones with the actors and why Gerwig cast them, and a look at the movie’s musical score by Jon Brion. The latter is a prolific Hollywood composer.
Gerwig describes the movie as being inspired by events from her own life. “None of it actually happened, but it’s all true,” she said.
The feature-length commentary, on the other hand, ends after the credits and provides insight on the film. Gerwig and Director of Photographer Sam Levy have scads to say about shooting on location in Sacramento – the California sun and its effect on scenes and shooting decisions, the ad libs, the juxtaposition between teenage self-centeredness and serious life situations (being gay and coming out of the closet, adults coping with depression).
Both offer terrific tidbits, from when they used a hand-held camera for one scene and how they changed the film to shoot the final scenes in New York City. They also discuss shooting in Sacramento as is, not with some radiant light or filter, but straight, to show the city’s distinctive beauty.
The pair worked together before in “Frances Ha.” They obviously are passionate about "Lady Bird" and moviegoers and critics alike agree. “Lady Bird” broke the record on the movie-review online site Rotten Tomatoes. It’s now the “best-reviewed movie of all time” on the site, with a 99 percent approval rating for critics, and an 80 percent for the audience.
This film is worth finding out why.
- Toni Guagenti