Thursday 22 March 2018

Lady Bird ★★★★★

When I first started hearing the critical acclaim for Greta Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical directorial debut Lady Bird, I was sceptical and reluctant to give it the time of day. Despite briefly earning the accolade of the best reviewed film of all-time on Rotten Tomatoes, I wasn’t convinced. “Do we really need another coming of age dramedy?”, I thought to myself. It certainly is a crowded genre and there isn’t a huge amount you can do with it. But growing up is something we can all relate to, so as long as there are human beings on this planet, there will be coming of age stories. And you know what? Lady Bird deserves the praise. It is a modern classic.

The film follows Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), a teenager navigating a loving but turbulent relationship with her strong-willed mother (Laurie Metcalf) over the course of an eventful and poignant senior year of high school. Along the way she finds love, she finds a future, and she finds herself.

It may sound like something you’ve seen a thousand times before, and bits of it are predictable. I won’t lie to you and call it the most original film of the year. Not by a long shot. But there’s something about that is just inherently watchable, charming and enjoyable. First of all, Saoirse Ronan is just perfect in the role. Despite sharing the awards acclaim with Metcalf, this film belongs to Ronan. She’s incredible in every single scene, and fully deserving of the hype. Support is strong from Metcalf, along with Lucas Hedges, Tracy Letts and Call Me By Your Name’s Timothée Chalamet. But praise should also go to the city of Sacramento that absolutely has presence as a character in this tale.

But it’s the well-observed screenplay that elevates Lady Bird from run-of-the-mill coming of age story to Oscar-frontrunner (despite walking away empty handed on the night, Lady Bird picked up 5 nominations). The painful insecurity, heartbreak and all-round shitty turmoil of adolescence is so perfectly portrayed that anybody who has gotten through their teenage years will be able to relate, whether male or female. Lady Bird might just be the best portrayal of growing up, infact. It’s not what is spoken, but what is unspoken. Some of the subtleties of this film can only be picked up by those who’ve been through it – which is anybody over the age of 20. If you’re just turning 13 now, make a note to watch Lady Bird at the end of your teenage years. It’s rather therapeutic.

And so, Lady Bird is one of those modern masterpieces that walked away empty handed on Oscar night. While Jordan Peele’s Get Out was the worthy winner of Best Original Screenplay, Lady Bird could’ve easily scooped that one – and it would’ve been well deserved. The poetic dialogue is beautiful and hilarious in equal measure, making Greta Gerwig (both writer and director) the star of the show. But the lack of Oscar success doesn’t matter. Who cares?! Lady Bird will be a masterpiece of the genre for many years to come, and will surely be revisited time and time again. I know I’ll be giving it another watch soon. Lady Bird is a modern classic, and an incredible vehicle for Ronan to show us just how good she really is.

Sam Love

Lady Bird at CeX

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