Out this week in cinemas is Lady Bird from writer/director Greta Gerwig. Starring Saoirse Ronan with a fantastic supporting cast surrounding her Lady Bird follows Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Ronan) a young teen in Sacramento in 2002. Christine or “Lady Bird” as she prefers to go by is going through that phase in her formative years where she is trying to figure out who she is much to the chagrin of her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) who is trying to keep her daughter grounded. Unfortunately, Christine has other notions and believes she is meant for legendary things, she just has to find a legend to be a part of. Along the way to this “legend”, there are trials and tribulations for Christine most of which are of her own doing as she is a teen not happy with her lot in life and is constantly trying to find equilibrium in a world she see’s as off balance.
Much of what makes Lady Bird so great is how even though it is set in 2002 and in Sacramento this is a universal story that could be shown to anyone in adulthood now and they’d immediately empathise with the character of Lady Bird. This is due to the fact that Christine is not a perfect character she is our window into this world that she lives in and what it all means to her and all you want to do if you’re heading into your 30’s (like I am) is grab her by the face and scream everything is going to be okay, your mom is doing her best and you need to understand that you don’t need to be legendary in your teens.
I say this because I wish an older version of myself had come along and slapped me out of my drama fueled haze when I was a teenager filled with angst and let me know that this stage in your life is just that, a stage. Saoirse Ronan brings such an authenticity to her portrayal of Lady Bird and it’s so wonderfully cringe-inducing because you knew kids like that or if you didn’t you were that kid because she tries everything to stand out and when that doesn’t work she changes herself on the fly so that she fits in with the kids that matter. This is not just all Ronan though it’s a partnership that comes from an actor and director being so in sync. Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan are a dynamic duo Saoirse gets the most out of Greta’s script while Greta’s direction brings out the best in Saoirse in every scene.
Christine is joined by a wonderful cast of characters that help elevate the quality of Lady Bird with their presence in the narrative. The most notable is Christine’s mother Marion (Metcalf) a hard-working woman who is trying to provide for her whole family and see’s Christine’s flights of fancy as something that needs to be tempered as it is putting undue stress on her family. Metcalf has such wonderful chemistry with Ronan and this relationship will connect so well with any child and their parent that it may bring tears to your eyes when some of their heated conversations hit a little too close to home. It’s not just Christine’s mom though who is a highlight of Lady Bird there is also Christine’s best friend and all around great person Julie (Beanie Feldstein) who is in many ways the polar opposite of Christine. She’s affable, warmhearted and Feldstein brings real comedic gold to this role.
In the end, Lady Bird is a timeless story about the naïvety of youth and how no one gets it right no matter how smart they think they are and I adored how much it reminded of the ridiculousness of being young. Greta Gerwig and her cast have shone a spotlight on an important time in a person’s life and if there is only one thing to take away from Lady Bird it is this, God bless moms and the crap they have to put up with.