2017 – USA
Director: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein
Words – Josh Senior
Greta Gerwig turns the traditional ‘coming-of-age’ tale on its head in Lady Bird, her stunning and personal directorial debut.
At once a thoughtful and detailed study of a young woman finding her way in the world, Lady Bird also takes on a much more important role in society as well, as an Oscar nominated movie that comes from a first time female writer/director.
Gerwig initially came to mass acclaim for her acting/writing roles alongside her partner Noah Baumbach, for the films Frances Ha and Mistress America. She takes her kooky sense of humour and flare for dialogue and reapplies it here to her own passion project.
Lady Bird McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) longs to leave her suburban Sacramento home and move to the East Coast. However, before she does so she must navigate the final year of high school, a year which will push her to explore excess, morality, family values and her sexual desires. Along the way Lady Bird attempts to build a cool persona for herself, in the hope that the world may begin to see her in the way she sees herself. Yet, she finds that growing up is not going to always be on her terms and she might have to adjust to the real world in ways she never imagined before, a fact that her Mother (Laurie Metcalf) constantly reaffirms.
Her journey is hilarious, but filled with pathos and some razor sharp one liners… a true cinematic delight.
This is such a refreshing film, especially considering that the sub-genre in which it exists is over-stuffed with male driven films where female characters are often sidelined or objectified.
It’s a powerful story that grabs hold of you and makes you see that teenage girls go through all the things teenage boys go through, without preaching or accusing. Lady Bird expresses her own sexuality on screen as well, yet the narrative is never weighed down by this, nor does it give way to male dominance. Lady Bird’s relationships are almost sidelines to the wider view point of the film, and Gerwig deserves real credit for subverting this. Her character is not defined by the men in her life, she is quite the opposite.
It’s baffling almost that it has taken until 2017/2018 for someone to really portray female adolescence on screen in a pure and realistic way, and at a poignant time considering the state that Hollywood is currently in. Andrea Arnold achieved something similar in her film Fish Tank but Lady Bird goes one step further by its inclusion in the Awards Season ethos. Its mass acclaim and wide recognition really paves the way for more female directors and filmmakers of all types to create, produce and inspire. If it does pick up all the awards (which alongside Get Out, it really does deserve), then it will mark a huge sea change in American filmmaking and the industry as a whole, its nomination though is not to be disregarded or looked over. Whether it wins or nots, the mere fact that it was created will surely be enough.
Lady Bird is essential viewing, now just go and watch it, again and again and again… it really is that good.