Lady Bird Blu-ray Review
"The only thing exciting about 2002 is that it's a palindrome."
Lady Bird Film Review
Greta Gerwig's high school senior year-in-the-life-of, Lady Bird, is a fabulously authentic little coming-of-age drama with Saoirse Ronan on top form.Gerwig, who has dipped in an our of some co-writing, co-producing and even co-directing work over her impressive career (particularly given she's only 34), makes her solo debut as a writer/director here, and it's a great first film.
Taking everything that she has learned across the years - undoubtedly assisted by her relationship with writer/director Noah Baumbach, and their collaborations on some quirky films like Frances Ha and Mistress America - Gerwig forges her own distinctive voice and style here, with Lady Bird, a film which she does not actually act in, channelling her directorial vision through the talented young actress Saoirse Ronan (Hanna).
A great first feature from a talented filmmaker who impresses as much behind the camera as she does in front of the camera.
The story follows Ronan's eponymous teen high school senior, struggling with the restrictions of her Catholic school, the interfering intrusions of her scrutinising mother, social etiquette, friendships and popularity, and her burgeoning sexuality and interest in boys, dreaming of escaping to arty colleges on the other side of the country and getting away from the claustrophobic confines of her small hometown in Sacramento.
Gerwig forges a personal voyage of discovery that carries the same kind of authenticity as The Florida Project, shot in a distinctive video diary style and spanning a long duration in a natural but almost montage way, to cover a number of key events as the lead character becomes an independent spirit.
Ronan enjoys some of the best material she has ever had, in a career that saw her leap to the screen with electricity in the excellent Hanna, have cutting her teeth on the likes of Atonement and The Lovely Bones, and then forge her way through young adult fare like How I live Now and The Host, to finally get some more choice parts, like in The Grand Budapest Hotel and Brooklyn. It's almost ironic that, at 24, having finally reached the point where she might get a few adult parts, Ronan finds her best role in a film where she's back playing a teenager and that - despite her age - she's far better at playing one now than she was when she was actually a teenager.
A slew of supporting players including writer/actor Tracy Letts (who was in Homeland, but also wrote Killer Joe), Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri), and Lois Smith (Minority Report, The Nice Guys) all colour in the background but it's Laurie Metcalfe's (everything from Roseanne to Internal Affairs) force of nature of a mother who helps define the film, which was originally - unsurprisingly - titled simply Mothers and Daughters.
Rightly attracting a number of accolades, including a whole host of Oscar nods, not least for the two lead characters, Gerwig has fashioned a very impressive debut. She's still cutting her teeth as a director - understandably - finding authenticity but not necessarily all-round depth, affording hints of resonance in events and scenes, but not necessarily leaving you with the lasting feeling of impact at the end, and testing out a visual style which will likely take a little honing. Nevertheless it's a great first feature from a talented filmmaker who impresses as much behind the camera as she does in front of the camera.
Lady Bird Blu-ray PictureUniversal's Region Free UK Blu-ray release of Lady Bird comes complete with a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen.
It's a very distinct and stylised production, reportedly shot to look almost like a video diary or like home videos, which is the look that they precisely accomplish, without ever letting it look any less filmic. It does, however, mean that the image is heavily textured, with a thick layer of grain that takes a little getting used to.
Shot to look like a video diary.
Detail is still impressive, even if the heavy texturing does prevent the kind of crystal digital clarity viewers are used to from ever being even close to achieved. Ronan's skin, for example, is never precisely observed, with it occasionally hard to distinguish between natural freckles and teen spots. Nevertheless, the characters, clothing and environments are richly realised, and delivered in the style intended for this distinctive piece.
The colour scheme is similarly intentionally graded, this time skewed to suit the period setting and, whilst 2002 is hardly 'period', Lady Bird - partly to note the period, partly to suit the video diary feel, but also partly to perhaps reflect the claustrophobic wrong-side-of-the-tracks hometown that Lady Bird finds so hard to escape. There are some richer, more vibrant tones on offer, and the image enjoys a few warm colours, but there's also a slightly yellowish saturation that's at times pervasive, again reflecting the intended style of the piece.
Hard to ever regard as demo, let alone reference, material, but it is very faithful to the original stylistic intentions.
Lady Bird Blu-ray SoundA strong audio track.
Lady Bird's UK Blu-ray spots a strong audio track which also enjoys remaining faithful to some inherently limited material, delivering the core element - family drama dialogue which often spins into arguments - further embellished by a number of more punchy musical moments, normally of the diegetic variety, coming during the party sequences. The family drama aspect is well reflected throughout the piece, and there is a nice ambience that gives the feature a decent atmosphere, although the more engaging moments - when Lady Bird puts on a school production, goes to the prom, or goes to a party - do come across as moderately surprising in their liveliness.
Lady Bird Blu-ray ExtrasThe features on offer are pretty decent.
Hardly brimming with extras, the supplemental features on offer are still pretty decent, headlined by an exceptional audio commentary from writer/director Greta Gerwig, who reveals plenty of background into the production, the style and her approach to filmmaking. There's also a quarter-hour Making-of Featurette that includes a number of interview snippets and some behind the scenes footage.
Lady Bird Blu-ray VerdictActress-turned-director Greta Gerwig has a voice and style very much of her own.
Lady Bird's a great little slice-of-life drama, rich in its authentic family portrait, with fantastic performances across the board. It's enjoys the same snapshot diary feel as The Florida Project, with young, budding actress-turned-filmmaker Greta Gerwig not only proving that she's learned a great deal from working with directors like Noah Baumbach, but also that she has a voice and style very much of her own. It's an impressive directorial debut, and Universal's UK Blu-ray release provides a solid rendition of the distinctive style and strong audio support with a couple of decent extras to round out a recommended package.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £12.99
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.