Frances Winston found Lady Bird to be a sweet coming-of-age film, with some lovely twists
Directed by Greta Gerwig – Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Lois Smith
The likelihood that you are unaware of this film is pretty slim, since it is gaining plaudits and awards left, right, and centre. I have to say I approached Lady Bird with trepidation, as I have never been Greta Gerwig’s biggest fan. I really don’t get all the hype around her. That said, she does prove herself a competent director here. However, the film follows the sort of quirky trajectory most of her work does, and I have to say not a lot really happens.
Ronan plays the self-anointed ‘Lady Bird’, which she has decided is preferable to her given name of Christine. She’s a high-school senior, bored by small town life, and longing to get into an Ivy League college in a more cultured city.
Constantly locking horns with her mother over the family’s financial struggles and status (they are literally from the wrong side of the tracks) she seeks solace hanging with the ‘cool kids’, to the detriment of her long-term friendships. But her lies about her life and background eventually catch up with her, and she is forced to confront just who she really is.
This is the kind of film where nothing really happens, but instead, we get an insight into the human condition. While this might make for fantastic performances, it doesn’t always make for very exciting viewing. That said, the writing is excellent, and doesn’t sound as contrived as movie dialogue can when it attempts to sound like ‘real people’.
Gerwig explores the idea of identity, our connections to our family and home, and the hidden secrets that shape our lives without our knowing. With such complex themes, the actors have plenty to work with, and are thoroughly believable in their roles. For all the praise being heaped on Saoirse, I felt Beanie Feldstein, as her best friend, Julie, deserved to get some plaudits also. Her performance is truly wonderful.
Gerwig is a far better director than I’ve ever found her as an actor. Lady Bird looks lovely, and no doubt her experience in front of the camera helped her guide the on-screen action. And yes, Lady Bird is a lovely movie that has many relatable moments, after all, who didn’t suffer teen angst or try to reinvent themselves at some point. However, I feel at this stage it is a victim of its own hype and success, and after so much pre-publicity and praise, it is difficult to look at it objectively.
Personally, I found Lady Bird to be a sweet coming-of-age drama. I did find it dragged somewhat in places, but it was always engaging, and had one or two lovely twists, just to keep things interesting.
Whether or not you, the reader, like it, will probably depend on how influenced you are by what you’ve read about it either way.
In Cinemas Now! See trailer below: