Lady Bird (2017) | Review
by Toma Klusaite
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird is a touching and intriguing coming-of-age story which surpasses many films of the genre. Featuring the brilliant Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf, this semi-autobiographical comedy-drama earned Gerwig five Academy Award nominations and is undoubtedly one of the best motion pictures that capture the essence of the challenging transition into adulthood.
Set in Sacramento, California in 2002, not long after 9/11, the film focuses on a rebellious, slightly awkward Christine (Saoirse Ronan), or “Lady Bird” as she insists on being called. The self-chosen name suggests her desire to move away from her teenage self and redefine herself. Lady Bird is an artistically inclined senior at a Catholic high school who, despite her family’s financial struggles, dreams of breaking away from her old life and attending a liberal arts college on the East Coast, somewhere ‘where culture is.’ During the school year, Lady Bird joins the school theatre production, gets romantically involved with two very different guys (Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet), attempts to befriend the popular kids, and consequently falls apart from her best friend Julie.
photo courtesy of imdb
While this sounds like a typical coming-of-age film, Gerwig did an excellent job making the characters and their relationships seem realistic and believable.
Although the central theme of the film is Lady Bird’s coming of age, the complex relationship between Christine and her overworked mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf), is given equal attention. Their relationship is so significant that at one point the screenplay’s working title was Mothers and Daughters. Both actresses performed their roles superbly, effectively conveying both mother and daughter’s inability to understand each other and communicate their feelings, without neglecting the tenderness between the two.
The well-crafted aesthetic of memory, believable characters, and the extraordinary performance of the actors have all certainly added up to the success of the film. However, it is the fresh insights and the subtle aspects, like Julie’s crush on a math teacher, that make Lady Bird worth watching. Along with the protagonist, the viewers are taken on a journey of self-discovery, dramatic first relationships, complicated friendships, and family life, which eventually ends in newfound revelations and worldview.
If you are looking for something easily digestible yet witty and insightful, Lady Bird should be on your watchlist.