Lady Bird is the much talked about, and now Golden Globe Award-winning and Oscar-nominated, coming of age tale from indie movie darling Greta Gerwig.
Christina, who wishes to be known as Lady Bird, is in her final year at a Catholic High School in Sacramento California but her head is in the clouds. She’s dreaming of the East Coast and a New York University education away from the nuns, away from her boring hometown and away from her mum. The teenager fights her background at every corner – her religious school, her modest home life and even her closest friend become focuses of her disdain. While on her journey to find individuality, and being desperate for change, Lady Bird’s bound to hit a few bumps along the way – friendships, boyfriends, faith and most of all her relationship with her mother.
Lady Bird’s hard-working parents want the best for her and have given her everything they have. Her mother, always the bad guy, only hints at her own tough upbringing so we can gather that obviously she wants her daughter to have a better lot in life. However, letting go of her child is proving harder than expected.
The story itself is not altogether original, an exploration of a teenager’s self-awakening, but the script is so perfectly witty, honest with an authentic teenage calamity that it brings about such a joyful resonance for all. That coupled with the fantastic performance from Saoirse Ronan equals some celluloid gold. Laurie Metcalf, who plays the wonderful matriarch of this story depicts a woman who both struggles with her emotional expression while laying bare the real fears of parenthood. However, it is apparent to all that ultimately this tumultuous mother-daughter relationship is rooted in love. Tracy Letts is the anecdote to these squabbles as a loving and laid back dad who you just want to reach through the screen and give a big hug to.
Lady Bird’s peers are also the perfect time capsules for your school years with Beanie Feldstein as best friend Julie being a wonderful sidekick to Ronan’s angst and boyfriend Kyle, played by Timothée Chalamet, is hilariously aloof.
The film makes a refreshingly positive depiction of a Catholic education and faith in general, and this is clearly a message that Gerwig wants to doff her hat to. For example, despite some bad behaviour, the nuns remain positive and supportive of Lady Bird’s future and even try to show her that she may actually like her much scoffed at hometown of Sacramento. It’s not an experience I’m personally familiar with but the longing for the safety and security of home is universal.
I smiled through the quick-witted retorts and loved being taken back to those exciting teenage years when hopes were many and fears were few. It’s in Gerwig’s writing, which is so perfectly played through the strength of performances, that Lady Bird extracts a very real and affectionate look at adolescence and acceptance.
Lady Bird is a funny, relatable teenage tale and a touching love story to mothers, daughters and the innocence, and often ignorance, of those formative years we so often crave to return to.
Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar.