Today: July 18, 2024

Lady Bird

There is a scene early on in Lady Bird which sees the titular character and her mother shopping in a thrift store looking for a dress for a school dance. They bicker, they snipe at each other and then they find the perfect dress and all is forgotten. It is a moment so honest, so brilliantly observed and so smile inducingly warm as to have you sitting back, ready for the whirlwind ride that is a coming of age story.

Growing up in Sacramento is apparently the last thing in the world Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) wants. Her father has lost his job and her blunt as a rock to the face mother (Laurie Metcalf) is only too happy to remind rebellious Lady Bird of how much her Catholic school education is costing them.

Boys come and go, friends are made and lost. And every minute of Lady Bird’s life feels familiar. It might not have happened like this for you, but it sure as hell feels like it almost did, or could have done, or perhaps might still. Writer director Greta Gerwig guides us through the trials and tribulations of being not quite a child, not quite an adult. That awkward teenage phase where you think everything you say matters, despite being horribly ruled by out of control hormones.

Most coming of age stories capture an essence of that point in one’s life. Lady Bird manages to go beyond this. It captures that feeling of lacking an identity to accepting that it’s okay not to quite have one yet. It’s a film that speaks of children and parents, of who you are depending on who you’re with and about where you are, both geographically and emotionally dictating.

In the making of documentary that accompanies this home entertainment release Greta Gerwig points out that she originally wanted to cast an unknown in the lead role. But having been told about Saoirse Ronan felt she was the only choice. And what a choice. Ronan is fast becoming that rare breed of actress who, despite huge accolades and success has never bowed to demand and ended up in mainstream fluff. Imagine if Jennifer Lawrence had continued doing films like Winter’s Bone. Or, and perhaps this is easier, Meryl Streep. Ronan is that good, chameleonic in her performances she is always a magnetic presence on screen. As Lady Bird she is wonderfully contentious, wonderfully dry and injects so much heart and soul into the role you just want to hang out with her and occasionally give her a hug.

A film of endless charm, Lady Bird is a gorgeous love letter to growing up and understanding your own wonderful imperfections.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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