“Lady Bird”, is a heart-warming and affectionate portrayal of teenage life. Lovingly written and performed with such heart, “Lady Bird” will transport you back to a time in your life that you wish you could relive. If you’ve never lived any part of ‘Lady Bird’s’ journey then you’ve never lived at all.
I loved this film.
Sacramento, 2002, and Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson is an idealistic seventeen-year-old who aspires of escaping the confines of California to head out where “real culture is” such as New York City. ‘Lady Bird’ is a regular teenager: immature and flippant and inquisitive. She hangs out with her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein), neither of them seem to fit into the high school hierarchy, and she enters into frequent arguments of attrition with her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf), whilst navigating the triumphs and tribulations of teenage life. This turbulent mother-daughter relationship is at the heart of “Lady Bird” and will no doubt make you assess your own teenage-parental relationships.
Indie star Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is the most profoundly human film of the year and it will surely become regarded as the definitive coming-of-age film. Gerwig, who also penned the screenplay, makes a bold statement here. She directs “Lady Bird” with such a warm and endearing honesty that it is simply impossible to resist. Gerwig has since stated that the film is something of a semi-autobiography (the reveal of a character’s true sexuality is actually grounded in reality) and this deepens her connection to the material. Her screenplay tackles themes such as teenage angst, virginity, depression, homosexuality and dysfunctional family with humour, intelligence, and thoughtfulness. It’s a sweet and affectionate tribute to the teenage odyssey. Greta Gerwig, who made her name on the mumblecore scene, is an exceptional talent. She brings such a unique voice which only emphasizes the need for more female directors and screenwriters in the film industry.
“Lady Bird” is essentially a film about family conflict, something we may all be too familiar with. ‘Lady Bird’s’ turbulent relationship with her mother displays a dysfunctional clash of ideals: youth vs adulthood. Again, you can relate. Marion is harshly critical of her daughter’s appearance, relationships, and prospects in the sort of way that only a deeply caring mother could. She’s overbearingly protective, but not out of spite but out of love. Do you remember a time when you lamented your parents for acting in your best interests? Yes, it’s like that.
If Christine represents the budding inquisitiveness and hormone-fuelled immaturity of teenage youth then Marion represents the hard truths of adulthood. She’s a mother of three, working every hour God sends to keep the roof over her family’s head since her husband Larry (Tracey Letts) is laid off, angering his clinical depression. Marion sees her own reflection in Christine and refuses to let her daughter follow the same path. As we exited the cinema my friend and I began to share stories about teenage experiences of our own. Recalling times when were ungrateful of our parents’ efforts since there were times when we were ignorant of their hard work and support. That’s what this film does to you.
The film does not follow a conventional plot but most closely resembles a collection of experiences which will certainly invoke strong memories and feelings from your youth, in your own contexts of course. The film utilizes genre tropes that are not unique to this film such as the first romance, the first break-up and the abandonment of the best friend to join the popular kids and to date the mysterious, handsome guy only to discover that he’s a bit of a dickhead. Yet “Lady bird” plays with these tropes in such interesting and surprising ways that they refresh the genre.
Saoirse Ronan (Did I pronounce her name correctly?) captures ‘Lady Bird’s’ youthful cheekiness and her adventurous spirit with a memorable performance that will cement ‘Lady Bird’ as a genre icon. Ronan is accompanied by a superb supporting cast of seasoned and emerging talent. Oscar nominees Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet, who can also be seen making love to a peach in this years “Call Me By Your Name” (check out our review here), continue to give remarkable performances that only serve to recognize them as emerging actors you should definitely keep your eye on. Beanie Feldstein, the younger sister of Jonah Hill, is astounding as Julie, ‘Lady Bird’s’ best friend. Laurie Metcalf’s Oscar-nominated performance is powerful. It’s a heartbreaking and personal portrayal of a mother’s love for her children.
“Lady Bird” is bursting with so much heart and soul that I dare you not to fall in love with it. It’s a big contender at the Academy Awards this year and it rightfully deserves to be recognized as one of the best of the year. However, “Lady Bird’s” impact on popular culture will last long after it’s been given its due recognition.