Verdict: A coming-of-age film that skips all the stereotypes.
Greta Gerwig's directorial debut in the form of semi-autobiographical film Lady Bird has received a lot of love and appreciation from critics and audiences all over. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts and other talented actors, this dramedy is worth every minute of your time.
What's Lady Bird About:
Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) has rechristened herself Lady Bird – “It's a name given to me, by me.” she says with a sense of mocked emphasis. Christine is the daughter of Larry (Tracy Letts) and Marion McPherson (Laurie Metcalf). Larry loses his job and Marion, who works as a nurse, takes up multiple shifts in order to keep the house running. She instills the fact that they are not rich in her kids' minds to keep things real. Lady Bird comes from a middle-class family, with an average life in all girls' Catholic school, average grades and not much of any kind of talent that can be categorized as exceptional. She aches to be different than from where she comes and what she is right now and wishes she could “live through something” and go to New York, “where culture is”. She and her mother influence each other and their interactions oscillate from purely affectionate to critical to those that invoke frustration. Lady Bird is on a quest to explore herself, experiment with friends and boyfriends, experience angst, struggle with where she comes from and who she wants to be. She tries her hand at theater and is livid when she lands a non-speaking role in The Tempest. Her best friend from childhood is Julie (Beanie Feldstein), a teenager dealing with her own set of issues. She makes new friends, fights with the old ones (probably because they remind her of who she is), lies about where she stays, has disappointing sex, and goes through a million emotions in a heartbeat. She changes her personality depending on who she's speaking to and her self-discovery towards who she actually is what Lady Bird is about. Mostly.
While there are many movies that have tried the well-trodden coming-of-age genre, what's special about Lady Bird is that manages to shed all the cliches. The movie is not about that one experience that shaped Lady Bird. It's about her ambition to find herself through betrayals, heartbreaks, disappointments of all sizes, and her equation with her strongest allies – her family, among other things. There has never been a stronger female-oriented dramedy that maps the angst of a teenager so lucidly. Her equation with her equally strong-willed mother ranges from painful to heartening to downright emotional. Marion is critical of Lady Bird because Marion thinks she can be so much better. While this comes from a good place, Lady Bird is tired of being told what to do and wants to do her own thing. All this has been showcased with such beautiful detail that it feels like it is somehow autobiographical. Laurie Metcalf and Saoirse Ronan are brilliant in their roles. Honestly, fierce Lady Bird is not without her character flaws and the film would've not been as lovable had Ronan not made the teenager so lovable and endearing, even when she makes selfish choices. The story is simple and all the characters are so well-written.
What Could've Been Better:
The film is predominantly based in America and is a “love letter to Sacramento” so, at times, the Indian audience may find the references a bit difficult to understand because people usually reserve that kind of attention and love to their homeland. Having said that, it takes nothing away from the raw and phenomenal emotions displayed in the film.
Why you should watch this movie:
Lady Bird is not your regular-teenage-girl-who-achieves-her-dreams kind of movie. This far from perfect protagonist has flaws, thinks she deserves better but does not really know what she wants. What the best part is that she also tells us that it is okay to be who you are and not have a plan sometimes. The film still manages to be comedic and natural and leaves you with a sense of empathy for Lady Bird, as we all were her age, with our own problems, not very long ago.