“Lady Bird, is that your given name?”
“Why is it in quotes?”
“I gave it to myself, it’s given to me by me.”
Christine McPherson calls herself “Lady Bird” and rebukes anyone who mentions her real name. This “coming-of-age” story, set in Sacramento, is a brilliant portrayal of the protagonist’s transition to adulthood and the associated absurdities of life.
Essentially a comedy-drama, Irish actress Saoirse Ronan is brilliant as the lead actress with Laurie Metcalf playing her mother.
Lady Bird, the character and by extension the movie, is full of energy. We are introduced to her bubbly spirit at the very outset of the movie when she falls off the car, which was being driven by her mother. She sports a pink plastered splint thereafter. Lady Bird is a complex character. She can be rebellious yet conformist, idealistic and hypocritical, self-centred yet kind and caring. The movie spins a delightful thread over her character. As much as the movie is a poignant tale, it is also a comedy. There were quite a few hilarious scenes.
The film plays out like a photo album. There is no event (or incident) that happens in the movie to trigger the drama. The entire duration of the film feels like a continuous and beautiful journey. While the story may feel simple, there are a lot of undertones going on beneath.
Lady Bird wants to leave Sacramento for a college, preferably on the East Coast, far from her home. There is this pressure of fitting in this strict Catholic school with her peers while also a fear of maintaining her status. With her best friend Julianne “Julie”, Lady Bird grows up discovering herself. While one may expect the lead to fall in love and have a perfect romance, it is not the case in the movie. She belongs to a lower middle-class family coping with monetary constraints. Whether be it supporting her closeted friend, coping with financial problems and regret after losing her virginity, Lady Bird isn’t a perfect princess story. And this is what makes it very special.
But above all these, the movie is a love story between the daughter and her mother. The audience is shown how fiercely the characters fight and then bond instantly. Both are relentless, both are cutting-edge smart, and both, deep down, would do anything for the other. And beyond them is the all neutral and caring dad who would be there for her. And there’s even an adopted brother.
Debut director Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha, Mistress America) manages to grip the audience’s attention and has paid attention to even minute factual details. One may credit her upbringing in Sacramento as the reason for this success. The script is exceptionally well-written (by Gerwig), full of wordplay and lively argument. Every line sounds like something a person might actually say, which means that the movie is also exceptionally well-acted. Twice Oscar-nominated (Atonement, Brooklyn) actress Saoirse Ronan continues her winning streak. Timothée Chalamet, brilliant in Call me by your name, shines in his limited screen-time. Beanie Feldstein is brilliant as Lady Bird’s companion and confidant, while Tracy Letts plays her father with composure. Special mention has to be made for Laurie Metcalf who plays one of the most delightful characters of the year – her mother.
There is nothing in Lady Bird that we haven’t seen before. Boyhood and The Perks of Being a Wallflower come straight to my mind when I think about this genre, yet Greta Gerwig makes this feel like a fresh tale. Some of the scenes are poignant and makes you remember your own childhood. The score is soothing and pleasing, with the cinematography presented quite well. The only complaint against Lady Bird would be that one doesn’t get to see the locales of Sacramento but I understand that it was deliberately done.
With the Golden Globes and other awards already in the bag, this “indie” movie has made the list for The Oscars. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf are strong contenders for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively, with Gerwig a competitor for Best Director.
Lady Bird will make you cherish your relationship with your parents. This movie is highly recommended.