Director: Greta Gerwig
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges, Tracy Letts, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein
Running time: 94 minutes
Release date: Feburary 23rd
There can be a fear when seeing a much-hyped film for the first time, especially during awards season, that it will not live up to the effusive praise that has preceded it. Lady Bird without a doubt meets and exceeds the rapturous commendations that have been heaped upon it to date.
Director Greta Gerwig has created a beautiful coming-of-age tale that succeeds in creating what so many similar narratives do not – a realistic teenage protagonist. Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (a career best role for Saoirse Ronan) is a seventeen-year-old convinced that she knows everything, but terrified that she knows nothing. Ronan’s nuanced and poignant performance cannot help but endear her to us – she is a perfect embodiment of that fragile teenage mix of self-assuredness and insecurity that plagues so many during their formative years.
Lady Bird is both determined to stand out and desperate to fit in. She is flawed: selfish, impetuous, often clueless to the emotions of those around her, but she has a good heart. As the narrative gently weaves its way through her final year in High School, and her often clumsy navigation of all types of relationships – familial, friendship, romantic – we cannot help but root for and be charmed by this wonderful character. Ronan’s impressive performance is accompanied by a stellar supporting cast. Laurie Metcalf shines as her mother, Marion. Marion and Lady Bird have a tempestuous relationship underpinned by love that is communicated movingly to the audience, if not always to each other. Call Me By Your Name’s Timothée Chalamet delivers another fine performance as the pretentious Kyle, one of Lady Bird’s love interests. Beanie Feldstein is charming as Julie, Lady Bird’s best friend, while Three Billboards’ Lucas Hedges gives a powerful and emotive performance as Danny O’Neill.
The ensemble characters are impressively well-rounded. Every individual has their own arc, each person flawed but relatable. Sensitive issues such as sexuality, mental health, and mortality are addressed with delicacy, humour and compassion. These issues are not presented as a character’s defining characteristic, but as a part of them as a whole, which is refreshing and important. It is one of the most honest and cinematic portrayals of adolescence in cinema, particularly adolescent women and the friendship between Julie and Lady Bird is a key aspect of this. Yes, young women discuss sex! Yes, they have dreams beyond having a romantic relationship! The narrative weaves between the different relationships in Lady Bird’s life, and the realistic and at times heart-breaking nature of each one.
Gut-wrenching, heart-warming, and utterly relatable, Lady Bird is a record of the vulnerability of youth; of the realisation that our parents are human, too; of learning slowly to see things from other people’s perspectives, as well as exploring issues such as class, relationships and coming-of-age. Lady Bird is an emotional, sometimes painful watch that moves between humour and poignancy with ease. It is a beautiful, moving, magical film and deserves all the accolades and praise it has won. Do not miss the opportunity to see this.