Lady Bird has been the film at the forefront of award show discussion with it being nominated for multiple Oscars, not least including best original screenplay and best director for the film’s creator Greta Gerwig. It is an impressive feat for Gerwig as only five women have ever been nominated for the best director category in the entire 90 years of the Academy Awards history and it is one which is seemingly deserved.
The film is a beautiful coming of age tale which opens with a scene all too familiar amongst teenagers world over in which seventeen-year-old Christine (Saoirse Ronan) — who insists on being called Lady Bird — is desperately trying to portray to her mother (Laurie Metcalf) her despair with their small Californian town of Sacramento and her intense desire to pursue a better life in a city far away where “culture is, like New York… or at least Connecticut.” It is this universality of these shared experiences of young people no matter where they are from which is so appealing and which the audience can connect to.
As the film progresses, Christine becomes more and more frustrated with those around her, specifically adults, who do not share in her enthusiasm for wanting to better herself in moving away to a reputable university in an east-coast city. As such, Christine and her mother have a very strained relationship.
But as Christine becomes more and more frustrated it becomes clear that it is not that her mother does not want to see her daughter succeed, rather it is that she is a realist, as many other of the lower-middle class parents of families in Sacramento had to be in a post 9/11 America. Perhaps a little envious of Christine’s naivety in thinking that everything will work out for the best, her mother takes on the role of being cruel-to-be-kind with the hope that the sooner Christine figures out that things often don’t fall into place as hoped in life, the easier her journey will be.
Lady Bird is not all heavy, hard-learned life lessons; however, it is also a film which is tremendously funny and jovial. Ronan and her co-stars, Beanie Feldstein who plays her on-screen best friend, Timothée Chalamet who plays the seemingly dark and mysterious but ultimately shallow and vacuous object of Christine’s teenage affection and Lucas Hedges who plays her confused, musical-theatre boyfriend from the rich part of town, all create characters such that when watching them interact, one is transported to the intense yet playful world of teenage-hood.
Despite its brilliant beginning, however, as the film progresses, it seems to lose its way as the tone becomes confused which ultimately results in the conclusion of the film feeling awkward and unsubstantiated. However, this is not to say that Lady Bird is not worth a watch, far from it in fact. It is a beautiful coming of age tale, indeed, but it is also a film more generally about people simply trying their best to navigate through life and the humility or lack of with which they do it.