An honest coming of age story that nearly everyone will be able to relate to in some way.
The coming of age story has undeniably been done to death throughout the years and, as a result, become somewhat predictable. However, with Greta Gerwig’s debut film Lady Bird, we’re given a fresh take on the teenage saga that is emotionally compelling and also very funny. The film follows Christie “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) as she endures her final year of high school in the city of Sacramento, California. Wanting desperately to move to the East Coast for college, a place she believes to be full of culture, Lady Bird butts heads with her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf), whilst also going through the general trials and tribulations that come with being seventeen.
Despite having a somewhat familiar story, Lady Bird tells it in a very nontraditional way, with each scene feeling more like moments that flow from one to the next that are all brought together in a satisfying bundle. The film is incredibly realistic in the way it presents both the quirks and mundanities of life, especially those present at the age of seventeen when most people are looking to break free of their surroundings, as Lady Bird is here. This, along with the film’s many awkward teenage scenarios and stereotypical characters, make Lady Bird a far more relatable coming of age story than the many that have come before.
Away from teenage life though, Lady Bird touches on broader personal issues and beliefs that many people have, recognising that things aren’t always what you expect them to be and, a lot of the time, people can be very unhappy. Whilst this may sound quite depressing, it’s of nothing but a benefit to the film as it makes it that much more engaging. Countering this potentially dire feeling, however, is the film’s excellent humour. Whether it be an unfortunate revelation, embarrassing moment or trivial argument, Lady Bird finds a way to make light of most situations with some really funny dialogue that keeps an overall good feel to it.
Whilst the film, in essence, isn’t really about any one particular thing, the constant that we always come back to is the relationship between Lady Bird and her mother. Here is where Greta Gerwig’s writing really stands out as the mother-daughter conflict between these two characters, that is mixed up with clear love and care for one another, is presented so realistically, with the dialogue and emotion feeling very natural. This is the real heart-tugging relationship of the piece and the plot point that it will, rightly, be most remembered for.
Saoirse Ronan is terrific as Lady Bird with the actress covering a full spectrum of emotions in her performance. She bounces off of her fellow cast members very well and fully sells herself as an anxious teen, eager to break out of her shell. Great too is Laurie Metcalf who, despite playing a very hard character, acts as an alternative voice to contrast Lady Bird’s naive optimism as she comes out with some harsh truths. The rest of the supporting cast is near enough perfect but Lucas Hedges, in particular, is fantastic in the role of Danny. His character is one of the real surprises of the film and plays an important role with regards to Lady Bird’s overall growth.
This is an incredibly impressive directorial debut from Gerwig with the film incorporating a lot of clever, contrasting visuals, as well as some beautiful shots of Sacramento that really drag you into the city. Lady Bird is a really great slice of life movie. Its story and lead characters are both likeable and relatable to the point that, by the time we get to the credits, there’s a definite disappointment that’s it’s all over. The fact that this film could just go on and on is a sure sign of its enjoyment, as it truly is worthy of all the high praise it’s receiving.
Lady Bird (2018), directed by Greta Gerwig, is distributed in the UK by Universal, certificate 15.