Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lady Bird: Movie Review

Heartfelt, honest and funny.
Lady Bird is about a lot of smaller ideas, all of which might seem uninteresting to the average viewer, but it so perfectly captures the awkwardness of a teenager coming of age and trying to survive her last year of high school, that there’s a relatable humour and warmth that will echo throughout the generations. Writer and director Greta Gerwig has referred to it as a love letter to her hometown of Sacramento, California, and it’s also about navigating the slightly different social structure of an all-girls catholic school, which Gerwig herself attended. 2017

Directed by: Greta Gerwig

Screenplay by: Greta Gerwig

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges

Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) is a seventeen year-old girl who vows to be different. She hates Sacramento, she dislikes her mother, she hates her school, she has rebuffed her birth name Christine, and she just wants her senior year to go according to her plan and then jet off to college New York City, or anything equally cosmopolitan – ie, a liberal arts college in New England, or anything geometrically opposed to Sacramento within the continental United States.

There are a number of references to Sacramento, but there is still a universality to Lady Bird’s dislike of the city. A personal belief that you are bigger and better than your hometown. Something that you are just too close to and can only see its faults and not its strengths. All teenagers and everybody who can still remember their teenaged beliefs should relate to her bemoaning.

Back at school, Lady Bird’s path to individuality goes through the drama club, a theatrical co-production with a nearby all-boys school. Her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) just wants to be accepted, and has a hot new teacher that she has set her sights upon (Jake McDorman), but will still tag along with the louder personality of Lady Bird. In drama club, Lady Bird has met her first boyfriend, Danny (Lucas Hedges).

Among the themes that Lady Bird best explores is the contrast between rich and poor, and how railroad tracks can define friendships and social aspirations. Danny hails from an upper-class family, but has other personal struggles that he doesn’t see the disparity in money. Lady Bird’s love and affection for him has many layers and may not all be genuine. The parts of Lady Bird which reverberated the strongest were the scenes of first love and outcomes of relationships – both with Danny and second love interest Kyle (Timothée Chalamet).

Images courtesy of Elevation Pictures
However the main theme of Lady Bird is her relationship with her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf). While teenagers do have a tendency of exaggerating and demonizing certain parts of their childhood, that’s not exactly the case with Lady Bird. Her mother is truly the queen of passive aggressiveness. There’s a hostility to their relationship which will take the entire movie to thaw. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll recognize a lot of yourself (particularly the embarrassing immaturity) in Lady Bird.
Best of 2017