Rating: A nice B+
Summary: The senior year of Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson before she heads off to college… where ever that is.
Lady Bird. The debut of director Greta Gerwig, written by Greta Gerwig, starring Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird is a coming-of-age tale about Christine, a rebellious high school senior living with her financially struggling family in Sacramento, California. There isn’t a real plot or anything like this, aside from “Will Lady Bird get into her dream college in New York City and how will her senior year go?” In fact, Lady Bird is pretty much exactly what a teenager is like- it wanders around aimlessly for a bit before zeroing in on the realization that relationships are, in fact, important and how we act in them have meaning.
Even though this doesn’t seem like much, Lady Bird has a lot of meat to it, specifically in our titular character’s growth and development. A lot happens in the hour and a half we spend with Lady Bird and we get to see all the small moments in life that play a bigger part in her movement towards adulthood. She feels like a person we’ve each been or might have wanted to be at some point in our teen years.
What I really loved about this movie is that, as colorful and distinct as each of the characters are, they are still general and relatable enough to remind us of themselves or someone they knew at some point. Lady Bird is authentic and resonant in a very distinct and original tone. Gerwig draws on the right teen moments, insecurities, or dilemmas that give Lady Bird a cross between nostalgia and humor not often seen in typical stories featuring adolescents. In the opening scene, Lady Bird is driving with her mother and having a nice moment before spiraling into an argument. Lady Bird literally throws herself out of the car. It’s a brilliant visual to how we’ve all reacted to our parents or a lecture at some point. And Lady Bird will have you laughing one moment, cringing the next, laughing again, then crying into your palms.
Ronan really carries this entire movie, playing Lady Bird with almost an angsty dignity. She’s come a long way since The Lovely Bones! There’s a real naturalness to her performance here. Particularly, she has a real chemistry with Metcalf and it’s a strong presentation of a mother-daughter connection. I love the mannerisms and the crossed-dialogue between the two, as it feels so familiar and genuine. I really wish Metcalf had won the Supporting Actress Oscar for this performance- the subtlety in her performance is just sublime and she uses a lot of small nuances to bring us to the root of the relationship.
I really loved watching this movie. I think anyone who reflects on how ridiculous they were as teenagers will find something to relate to. We’ve all had those moments at those ages where we’ve all wanted to react or do something (“I want to live through something,” she says at one point) and it’s so gratifying to see a young woman with so much autonomy and authority over herself. A simple, yet complicated film that should warm even the blackest of emo hearts.