Wow. Where did this come from? I honestly walked into this thinking this was an early biopic of Lady Bird Johnson. Last year around this time, i cluelessly walked into Moonlight expecting something completely different as well. I think this must be the very best way to walk into a movie because this is twice that i've been totally blown away.
It's similar in some ways to last year's Edge of Seventeen except instead of just supplying the ups, this one also gets into the downs really effectively. In fact, depression is explored on many levels on how it affects those around it. There are a couple of highly impactful dramatic moments in this movie that really surprised me. One behind a cafe that I was not expecting at all. Amazing and could be this year's "Manchester" moment.
The performances are completely off the scale here. Ronan is perfect as always, but the supporting cast around her really rose to the occasion. Laurie Metcalf will make you wonder why she didn't elevate above Roseanne after all this years. Very strong performance. The father, Tracy Letts, really impressed me and made me wonder if they approached David Letterman for the role perhaps.
Honestly, the movie is just a total joy and it's worth seeing if only to see a football coach try to direct a school play. I want to rewatch that scene with the volume way up over and over and over again.
I'm having trouble accepting that this is a directorial debut. It's brilliant, and some of the shots are deeply affecting. There's so much going on in the wings of this movie too, this one shot of a disappointed theatre director looking at the reactions of people leaving.... that stuck with me and it wasn't even the focus of the scene at all.
This totally blew me away.
Heart Rating: 5 stars (it's perfect and will pull you in all sorts of directions)
Brain rating: 4.5 stars