Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) tells her mother (Laurie Metcalf) that she wants to live through something — something that matters. I think a lot of people feel that way in their lives. Looking out the window today, we are living through something. We’re living through an incredible period of anguish and horror. At the same time, however, we’re living through a period of time where people are standing up for what they believe in and fighting back against those who would so readily take everything away from them.
So, Lady Bird, if you thought 2002 was uneventful, just wait until 2020.
Greta Gerwig’s 2017 coming-of-age film, Lady Bird, was just released on Netflix, and is also streaming on Amazon Prime. Nominated for five Academy Awards, the movie centers on a seventeen year old high school senior who has a rocky relationship with her mother and tries to figure out who she is before she enters the next stage of her life.
This was one of my favorite movies of 2017, and it only gets better the more I watch it. It’s quirky and funny, but it also has an incredible amount of character depth. It is a really powerful coming-of-age story, which is one of my favorite genres of film. It clearly comes from a place of authenticity, capturing the uncertainty and confusion that accompanies this time in a person’s life.
Saoirse Ronan is absolutely phenomenal in this film. She is one of the great young actors in the industry, already receiving four Oscar nominations by the age of 26. She worked with Gerwig again on last year’s Little Women, which is also a fantastic movie. Ronan plays this part rather effortlessly. She doesn’t have the big emotional scene or the huge dramatic moment that one would normally associate with a really strong performance. Rather, the brilliance comes from how she is able to entirely inhabit this character. I don’t feel like I’m watching an actor playing a part; I feel like I am watching the life of Lady Bird.
Lady Bird is looking for a purpose in life. She is constantly looking at the greener grass, wanting to be on the other side of the train tracks. She looks at people more fortunate than she and her family, and wishes she could be like them. Even just from changing her name to “Lady Bird”, she wants to form a new identity for herself and be someone else. She doesn’t feel understood, especially by her mother, Marion.
Marion and Lady Bird are two completely different people, which leads to a lot of friction between them. Marion feels that Lady Bird doesn’t appreciate the sacrifices she makes, and Lady Bird feels that Marion doesn’t appreciate her for who she is. The scenes between Metcalf and Ronan are some of the best in the film. It perfectly captures the dichotomy within these characters’ relationship: having fun moments together and then instantaneously being at each other’s throats.
This is a wonderfully written and directed film. Greta Gerwig, who has been acting for years, approaches this movie with the mindset of an actor. While the story is certainly compelling, what makes this film work as well as it does is the organic performances and the realistic characters. Gerwig fundamentally knows the importance of character, and structures the film to best accentuate the characters and the performances behind them.
Lady Bird is a fantastic movie that I love revisiting. It is an enjoyable movie to watch, with a lot of great comedy. It has deeper moments of drama that give us insight into the characters. All of the performances are spectacular, with Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf especially shining. Greta Gerwig’s writing is raw and honest, and her direction brings the best out of everyone involved.
I’ll be honest. I’ve been having a hard time focusing on much outside of the protests going on across the country right now. It’s sucked out all of my energy, and even while writing this review I’ve struggled to give it my full attention. While watching this movie, however, I was transported away from the sickening displays of police brutality in our streets. I was transported to 2002 Sacramento, California. I was able to have some laughs, and appreciate a film that I think is really well done. It was an hour and thirty four minutes of refuge from reality.
If you haven’t watched Lady Bird, now is the time to do so. It’s available on Netflix and Amazon Prime to stream. If you’re like me, where you’ve been so focused on everything that is going on and you feel drained by it and you’re looking for something to help recharge your batteries and give you something new to focus on for even just a little bit, Lady Bird certainly did that for me.
Author: Nathanael Molnár, originally published [6/3/2020]