Sandy Kenyon reviews 'Lady Bird'

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Saoirse Ronan, the actress behind the critically acclaimed movie "Brooklyn," is back on the big screen in another coming-of-age tale called "Lady Bird."

I make it a policy not to read too much about a film before going to review it, so I can judge the picture purely on its own merits. And one of the joys of the job is finding a movie like "Lady Bird" that comes out of nowhere to capture my heart.

The movie begins with an argument between two strong personalities. Ronan plays the daughter who wants to head to New York, while her mother -- played by Laurie Metcalf -- wants her to stay close to home, which is Sacramento, California. The first hint that this tale is bit different is when Lady Bird ends the argument by hurling herself out of the passenger seat of a moving car and onto the road.

From that moment on, I was hooked.

My mind and my heart were totally open to the journey of a young woman in search of her own identity.

The dialogue was written by Greta Gerwig in her directorial debut, while the story was inspired by her own journey from Sacramento to the Big Apple. According to Gerwig, herself a well known performer, the movie is a reminder that one person's coming-of-age story is another person's letting go, and in fact, her relationship with her mother forms the heart of the movie.

Her mom is "warm, but also kind of scary," as one of her friends puts it, with Metcalf's character urging Lady Bird to "be the best version" of herself that she can be.

The film was shot on the West Coast, but it features the best the New York theater scene has to offer.

Tracy Letts plays Lady Bird's dad, Stephen McKinley Henderson is the drama teacher, and Lucas Hedges -- who earned an Oscar nomination for "Manchester by the Sea" -- is her first boyfriend. All serve to complement a movie that's so beautifully and fully realized that such a brief review can never do it justice.

In fact, New York Times movie critic A.O. Scott called the film "perfect."

I say "not quite," but "Lady Bird" is closer to perfection than most movies, and my fondest wish is that you will go discover it as I did. It is only in a few theaters now, but it will go into many more in the coming weeks. Look for it to be a contender in this year's Oscar race.
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