While there have been many stories of adolescent angst and growth, such as Moonlight, Boyhood and Call Me by Your Name, it’s not often this genre focuses on the female perspective.
Lady Bird, actress and writer Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut, gives the coming of age genre a female protagonist.
The 17-year old named Christine, who everyone refers to as “Lady Bird,” while not always likable, realistically represents the life of a teenage girl.
Living in California in early 2002 with her family, Christine sees herself as standing out from everyone. Her mother sends her to a Catholic school with wealthy upper class peers because of an incident her brother witnessed at the local public school.
Two-time Academy nominated Saoirse Ronan, plays Lady Bird with a nervous energy, nailing the awkwardness of not knowing how she’s being perceived and trying not to care.
Lady Bird is focused on the standard issues of a high school student, including college applications, dating, and sex.
The film does its best work when it focuses on Lady Bird’s relationship with her family.
Lady Bird’s mom Marion, played by Laurie Metcalf, is at constant odds with her daughter. In the opening scene of the film, Lady Bird and her mom have a back and forth, somewhat playful but also biting.
“The way that you do work, you’re not even worth a State (school) tuition,” her mother says about her daughter’s dreams of going to school in New York.
Lady Bird, while grateful for her family, is still rather embarrassed by them due to their working class status. She has her father drop her off a block from school so no one sees him. She lies to new friends about where she lives to seem more socially acceptable.
“Lady Bird always says she lives on the wrong side of tracks,” says her first boyfriend Danny, played by Lucas Hedges. “But I always thought that was a metaphor, but there are actual train tracks.”
Marion’s face visibly hides the embarrassment at how her daughter thinks of her family, but the hurt at how she thinks of them is visible.
“She doesn’t know how to help you, and it frustrates her,” says Lady Bird’s father Larry, played by Tracy Letts, tells her.
Lady Bird’s desire to leave her family behind ends up distancing her from her friends and her family. Her mother’s feelings on the matter makes for an upsetting and tense final act.
Among the highest ranked films of 2017, and an Academy Award contender. Lady Bird gives a fresh take on a type of story that all adults (and teens) can relate to.
Studio – A24
Cast – Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothee Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein
Rated 14A for language, sexual content and teen partying
Lady Bird is currently in limited release in Canada and the USA, with plans to expand in early 2018.