Lady Bird did, for a time, maintain a perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and that kind of hype led me to have quite high expectations for the film. I knew nothing about the film, beyond its name and that it was about a girl. I had no idea about the tone or themes of the film and was intrigued to learn what all the hype was about.
At its core Lady Bird is a story about a girl coming of age, and the relationship between her and her mother through this tough time. As with most teenage girl coming of age stories, there is a love story element, but the film doesn’t focus on that aspect. In fact it almost refuses to focus on any one element entirely, and instead shows you various different moments in Ladybird’s life and expects you to keep up with the pace and quick editing.
It is a shorter film, coming in at just over 90 minutes, but it packs in a lot in that time. This is excellent film making, with scenes often starting midway through a conversation but still giving enough context to allow us to keep up with what’s happening. Writer and director Greta Gerwig deserves a lot of praise for this and deserved her nomination at the academy awards, she possibly would have been my pick for best director if I was a voter myself.
The girl we follow, and the titular role, is played by Saoirse Ronan. Don’t worry, I have no idea how to pronounce that either. She is surrounded by an excellent supporting cast, with the mother Marion played by Laurie Metcalf and love interest Danny being particularly strong. Every character feels believable, meaning it feels very real and raw, and you find yourself hooked on the story.
I think this is a bit of a frankenstein movie. Part dark comedy, part Romance, part coming of age, and part drama, it manages to make it all work and this results in the film having something for everyone. You follow Ladybird on her journey growing up and all the questions teenagers face, without falling into the traps of cliché. Again it all feels very real, coming across as a look at a bunch of real people who just happen to be on film.
It is so honest and true to life that it may not have that escapism that some desire in their movies. I know some people want to be taken on a journey and allowed to forget the ups and downs of real life. Ladybird is not that kind of film, and there are several moments that you watch unfold which are directly relatable to things you will have experienced in your own life. I can only imagine this applies even more if you’re a girl who grew up in the early 2000s, especially at a catholic school similar to the one in the film.
Given the hype after its rotten tomatoes score, I think Lady Bird is still a surprising film that will really give you food for thought. Excellent performances and great direction combine to make this one of the best of the years oscar contenders, It may have been beaten to the Best Picture gong by the fantastical Shape of Water, but Lady Bird’s realistic story holds its own regardless.
Good: An accurate portrayal of life, without becoming too cheesy or cliché. Greta Gerwig’s direction and Saoirse Ronan’s performance elevate it beyond others in the coming of age genre.
Bad: Maybe a little too realistic for those that want an escape.
9/10 – Excellent film, I feel unlucky not to win any awards.