Normally when you see the synopsis for a film that touts itself as a coming of age tale, you most likely think of a film that is going to have typical clichés and tell a story that we have seen far too many times about adventurous teens, misunderstood parents, and short sighted relationships, all tied up in a nice bow at the end. However, I am excited to report that Lady Bird improves on the coming of age idea by presenting ideas in more relatable and realistic ways that shatter conventions of this particular genre.
Lady Bird introduces itself in a very tumultuous way, and the “brutally honest” tone of that beginning never loses itself throughout the runtime. From the moment we see high school senior Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) (which is the name that she demands everyone call her), she is riding in the car with her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf), having a fierce argument. Lady Bird apparently has aspirations to move away from her home in Sacramento and pursue her college career abroad. Her mother however, doesn’t seem too thrilled about the idea and even goes as far as to say she isn’t smart enough or capable enough to do such a thing given her lacking intellect. Without ruining the scene, I couldn’t help but laugh at the sheer audacity of a mom and daughter going at each other so fiercely and with such conviction. But this strong-willed confrontation is truly what drives the rest of this film.
Lady Bird is fantastically written with sharp and witty dialogue to boot. You will struggle to find a conversation that isn’t interesting when it comes to Lady Bird’s interactions between her friends and family. This truly is a film about self-discovery, and since Lady Bird is ending high school and about to cross that line to the land of adulthood, you can practically see how the fear of the unknown and journey to find where she belongs weighs on her.
Lady Bird also lives with two adopted children, Miguel (Jordan Rodrigues) and Shelly (Marielle Scott). One thing that I loved about this film is that it doesn’t bog you down with typical “we have problems because we are foster kids” clichés that would’ve been so easy for this film to fall into. Lady Bird fights with them as she does with everyone else, but the acting is so well done that you feel how all of these people really do care deeply for each other. Of course, when family conflict ends, there are positive interactions that let you know everyone is coming from the right place.
The adventures that Lady Bird has in her Catholic high school range from having boyfriends, being accepted, self-consciousness about social status, senior prom, break ups, and even understanding the problems and financial struggles of one’s parents. There are a wide range of emotions on display here, but nothing ever happens in a way that is not entertaining to watch.
With that being said, the film truly shines when Lady Bird and her mother Marion interact with each other. There is definitely love there, but the strong personalities of the two clash with epic results. However when the smoke clears and the two are finally real with each other, there are some memorable and genuine moments that warm the heart.
Without ruining too much of the film, most of it takes place in high school but we do get the beginning of Lady Bird’s college journey as well. These scenes really help pull things together, and the character learns some things about herself that indicate where her path will go from there. Director Greta Gerwig can’t be credited enough for being able to immerse us into all of these universal themes without making the film seem unrealistic or self-important to a fault.
If there are any flaws in Lady Bird it may be found in the subject matter that the film chooses to highlight. There were some characters that I wish had gotten more time to flesh out their stories. For instance, information is revealed about Lady Bird’s father Larry (Tracy Letts), and even though we do get some development on his story, it leaves more to be desired since we don’t get a concise closure for his journey in the plot. However, these holes in the plot are very minimal and (besides the occasional change in tonal shifts) Lady Bird tells this tale almost flawlessly.
It’s also worth mentioning that Lady Bird has exceptional review scores, garnering a critic score of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, and is widely considered one of the best films of 2017. It also has some Oscar nominations for 2018 as well.
At the end of the day, anyone can enjoy this and most of the time you will be laughing at the occasionally harsh and awkward moments that these characters create with Lady Bird. The film does come together nicely and gives us a sense of understanding about Lady Bird, as she herself also makes those self-discoveries.
This was a good time at the movies and you should go see it!
94 loud proclamations about leaving a small town for bigger and better things out of 100 (94%).