The first performance of The Seagull is one of the legendary disasters of the theater. The audience booed — but, perhaps more tragically for Chekhov, they laughed, and they laughed in the wrong places. They laughed at the young writer Treplyov’s symbolist play with which the story opens and at the pretensions of the younger characters.
Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) — the preternaturally calm, quirkily rebellious titular protagonist who has renamed herself Lady Bird — seems awfully familiar. As the heart of Greta Gerwig’s adorkable coming-of-age-in-Sacramento writing/directing debut, her mannerisms, her slightly antiquated vernacular and social gestures, her entire mode of qualified suburban angst and dubiously offhand witticisms call to mind something or someone we seem to know.
John Crowley’s Brooklyn – an achingly earnest immigrant coming-of-age story, adapted by Nick Hornby from Colm Tóibín’s novel and featuring a revelatory performance from Saoirse Ronan – is a picture out of time.
Everything about it seems imported from an earlier period of film history: the total absence of cynicism, the self-assurance in its quiet moments, its elegant but understated framing, its close-ups on luminously lit faces, its resolute insistence on small personal dramas to provide context for the much larger ones that frame them all hearken back to another age.