Lady Bird (Blu-ray Review)

Nominated for five Academy Awards and winning over critics and audiences alike this past fall was Greta Gerwig’s feature directorial debut, Lady Bird.  The coming of age tale of a teen girl going through her senior year at the beginning of this century brought another strong performance from Saoirse Ronan, and maybe put more than just us film geeks on notice for Greta Gerwig and if it hadn’t been for that equally awesome performance by Allison Janney in I, Tonya, the Best Supporting Actress Award would be Laurie Metcalf’s. Lionsgate is bringing it to Blu-ray just after the awards which will remind how refreshing and how much of a joy this film is or for many others a nice discovery of the film they heard’s name called a few times in the big categories for the Oscars. You can pick it up Tuesday or pre-order it using the Amazon link below.


Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson fights against, but is exactly like, her wildly loving, deeply opinionated and strong-willed mom, a nurse working tirelessly to keep her family afloat after Lady Bird’s father loses his job. Set in Sacramento, California, in 2002, amidst a rapidly shifting American economic landscape, Lady Bird is an affecting look at the relationships that shape us, the beliefs that define us, and the unmatched beauty of a place called home.

All that was needed to get my booty in a theater to see Lady Bird was “Greta Gerwig directed a movie”. I’ve been such a big fan of hers since I saw Hannah Takes The Stairs way back in my quality control days. She’s always had good ties and connections to interesting filmmakers and actors on the indie scene while also proving to be pretty insightful and knowledgeable when it came to interviews and such on bonus features.

This isn’t her directorial debut, but her feature film debut and she handles it with the ease of an old school veteran filmmaker.  Her key to the look of the film is that it is to look like a “memory”, and that idea creates for a unique aesthetic that actually presented itself even more here on the Blu-ray than it did when I saw it in the theater. She also separates herself from the pack by actually framing shots, painting a nice picture and keeping to a calm vision of Lady Bird’s crazy senior year. It would be easy to just go handheld and try to make everything so grounded and “real”, but Gerwig’s been around, knows that everybody does that and actually cares about what her film actually looks like in addition to having a good script and strong performances.

Maybe its because I’m only 2 years old than the character of Lady Bird and of her generation that this film really clicks with me. I didn’t go to a Catholic school, but I went to a smalltown one where that church stuff had a heavy impact. There are many similarities and life experiences and challenges that were shared. But most of all, it was great to see it from the other side; the real genuine female experience of what I went through.  Its the real deal. And its a great joy. The film had me as much with a good chuckle as it did getting choked up or almost putting up a quiet “yeah” fist pump at times.

The cast of the film is a complete treat. Saoirse Ronan just continues to involve herself in diverse and personal roles landing her three Academy Award nominations now. And she fits the role of girls I knew in my teenage and college years. Laurie Metcalf is probably my MVP here, though. She is perfectly human, but also very understandable in her part of being mother to Lady Bird. Gerwig never paints her a villain, just a little socially flawed. We are allowed to see just how tough being the matriarch of the family is at any given moment in the film. On the other end, dad, played by Tracy Letts is obscenely lovable. Try hard not to want to hug this guy or say “aw”. Many of the young actors pop quite well and just are swimming with fun innocence and discovery throughout the film.

Lady Bird is a coming of age story that really gels in every department. To compliment it further, it reminded me of (And either equaled or bettered) two films I am a big fan; Ghost World and to a degree Saved! Greta Gerwig’s first feature film is a fully realized confident work that has some of the year’s finest performance and a great sense of style to go with it. Forget first timer, it feels like the work of an established vet going back and making a personal “for me” film. Whether its a role or another directorial effort (Hoping its the latter), I can’t wait to see what Greta Gerwig is up to next.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-25

Clarity/Detail: Lady Bird has a very unique visual look to it that Greta Gerwig has described as “feeling like a memory”. The film has a nice interesting color palette on display while also appearing as a cross between indie and a sorta worn 1970s film. This may be why Lionsgate decided to forego releasing the film on 4K Ultra-HD. Details are fine enough. There is a grainy look to the film. I rather enjoy the appearance of Lady Bird in that its unique in the way it both feels new and also harkens feelings back to films of other times.

Depth:  The dimensional work on Lady Bird is well enough due to its look, but there are some nice exteriors with really good spacing. Movements are cinematic and natural. No real troubling issues with movement occur.

Black Levels: Blacks are really deep and mask a lot of detail due to the nature of the film’s intended aesthetic. Its not really a big deal, but if you’re someone who’s looking for the quality of a super sharp, crisp major blockbuster, this maybe isn’t your wheelhouse.

Color Reproduction: Lady Bird’s palette has a very unique twist to it, but once I found that the production designer from 20th Century Women worked on it, it falls in line with that. Colors do pop on accessories like a blue hair ribbon, Lady Bird’s pink cast, red back packs and more. Greens and various blues can come across in a kinda of dingy, used way.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a hair cold and consistent throughout the whole film. Facial features like scars, freckles, acne, makeup, gloss and more are present enough in medium and close up shots. There are moments where some of the grainy work can hide a bit of detail.

Noise/Artifacts: There is a bit of a grainy look to the film by intention, but its rather clean.


Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Lady Bird comes to Blu-ray with a solid 5.1 mix. Its a vocal heavy film with many scenes taking place in quiet rooms. Music in the film is always taking a nice forefront with good crisp clarity and depth. The balance is solid between the effect, vocals and songs with good layering. Overall, this isn’t going to change the world but its all it really needs to be and will satisfy what you’re expecting from it.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Music bumps, doors slamming and some other natural deep sounds get an assist from the subwoofer (The scene where she goes through acceptance letters really bumps).

Surround Sound Presentation: This is a more front heavy mix. Sound travel back and forth is accurate and well placed. Rear channels have some specific moments, but mostly help with ambiance and fuller moments.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are clear and crisp.


Lady Bird comes with the DVD edition and a digital copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Writer-Director Greta Gerwig and Cinematographer Sam Levy

Realizing Lady Bird (HD, 15:42) – Greta Gerwig leads a very director focused featurette that also has interviews with the main cast and her cinematographer Sam Levy. We basically get a good gyst and expertise on the film from Greta’s point of view and brings a little more understanding to the actual craft of Lady Bird rather than just harping on the general themes of the script and patting all the actors on the back. Its almost 16 minutes worth of actual substance rather than hollow praise selling a movie you’ve already chosen to watch.


Lady Bird was one of my absolute favorite films of last year and is gonna be one for a long time (I’ve already seen it three times). Lionsgate brings it to Blu-ray with a really solid presentation to go along with extras that are good, but might have you longing for more. Lady Bird could easily make a fantastic Criterion Collection release down the road and we can only hope that becomes a reality. Right now, the film is strong enough by itself to own, so go out there and pick it up!


Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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