seen @ Kew Gardens Cinemas, Kew Gardens, Queens NY
Let's talk about Saoirse Ronan, because I have a feeling we're gonna talk about her a whole lot more in the future. As I've said here, I knew she was going places the first time I saw her, in Atonement. Child actors who achieve success rarely live up to that promise as an adult, but so far, Ronan has bucked that trend.
She's worked with quality directors: Joe Wright, Peter Jackson, Peter Weir and Wes Anderson, among others, with baby steps into the mainstream - though I'm sure it's only a matter of time until somebody puts her in a superhero movie or a Star Wars spin-off or whatever.
She's American! I totally did not know that; she was only raised in Ireland. Not only that, she's a New Yorker, born in the Boogie Down Bronx. "Saoirse" is Irish Gaelic for "freedom."
Every year, it seems, some fine young actress comes along who is proclaimed as the new "it girl," the next Audrey Hepburn; movie pundits love anointing one, whether it's Emma Stone or Jenny Lawrence or Anne Hathaway or Kate Hudson or Gwyneth Paltrow, etc. etc.
Ronan's new film, Lady Bird, written and directed by indie film lifer Greta Gerwig, is a very good, very pleasant coming-of-age story that has a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes; as a result, Ronan has become the current "it girl" and an Oscar contender.
It's my hope all this sudden attention won't go to her head; I want her to be popular enough to keep making good movies, but I don't want to see her get sucked up into the movie star hype and wind up on Page Six with a pop singer. It's way too soon to tell if that will happen - she's only 23 - but so far, she strikes me as level-headed and smart, and most importantly, she grew up and still has a career. That alone is noteworthy.
Unfortunately, I've seen very few of Gerwig's films as an actress. She was good in 20th Century Women; I don't remember who she played in Jackie. As a director, she gave us a nice sense of her hometown of Sacramento, the setting for Lady Bird. Her script was very character-driven, balancing humor with drama; Lady Bird is believable as a modern teenage girl who knows what she wants. I liked her relationship with her parents. This is one hell of a debut; a Best Picture nod has got to be a possibility.