Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Review #1,330: 'Lady Bird' (2017)

At first glance, this second feature from actor-turned-writer/director Greta Gerwig appears to be yet another quirky and twee little indie feature which made the cut as the obligatory low-budget entry into the Best Picture category at this year's Academy Awards. Yet Gerwig wasn't brought in by Noah Baumbach to co-write Frances Ha and Mistress America for nothing. She has a unique voice, and a keen eye for the smaller moments in life that most people didn't realise they had forgotten or missed. Lady Bird is riotously funny, incredibly relatable (for both sexes), and features two incredible lead performances. It's also profoundly authentic, and will have many female viewers (and some male) squirming in their seats as their own awkward memories of adolescence come pouring back.

It's 2002, and Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is an artistically-inclined teenager on the verge of leaving her Catholic high school and fleeing her home of Sacramento to attend college. She longs to be different and stand out from the crowd, opting to go by the nickname of 'Lady Bird' and dressing in a grungy, non-conformist way. She shares a relaxed relationship with her depressed father Larry (Tracy Letts), but struggles to communicate with her ball-busting but well-meaning mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf). The film covers her final days of school and her struggles to find her identity. Best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) is always there for her, but Lady Bird is more interested in pursuing her burgeoning sexuality and trying to fit in with the cool, richer kids. All the disappointments of teenage life await her, but she firmly believes that life will only truly start once she escapes her childhood home.

The focus is primarily on Lady Bird's concerns, but this is also a story of a young girl struggling to communicate with her mother. Marion does all she can to help her daughter find the best life for herself, such as working long shifts at the hospital and maintaining a steady routine at home, but she is also burdened with unrealistic expectations and emotionally scarred by her own abusive childhood. Their relationship is summed up in the opening scene, as Lady Bird opts to jump out of a moving vehicle and break her arm rather than listening to her mother voice an opinion. The dynamic forms the film's backbone, and their quick-tempered back-and-forths will be familiar to many. Both Ronan and Metcalf are outstanding in their roles, finding sympathy for their characters when they are at their most flawed and unreasonable. Gerwig finds the perfect balance between light and dark, taking the edge off when events get a little too familiar with some beautifully-timed comedy. Lady Bird will no doubt launch Gerwig onto bigger and better things.

Directed by: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein
Country: USA

Rating: ****

Tom Gillespie

Lady Bird (2017) on IMDb

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...