Cinema is often renowned for one of two things: entertainment or artistic brilliance. “Lady Bird” is a movie which possesses the ability to have both.
Simplicity, in many cases, is what affords such a film brilliance. “Lady Bird” opens with a mother and her daughter, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (played by Saoirse Ronan), driving down a road in California. The scenery which passes behind them is sparse, though not desolate, conjuring a feeling associated with many of John Steinbeck’s novels and plays. In the background, there is an audio recording playing the ending of “The Grapes of Wrath.” Tears streak down their face as the audio and they smile and laugh and laugh at themselves for crying. The irony is they soon fall into an argument about leaving for college, a recurring theme throughout the film that brings to light a hatred for the known and a yearning for what is not.
Christine, or as the character continues to insist to be called, Lady Bird, is a bright-eyed girl who believes she is destined for greatness despite her many flaws, which visibly come across to the audience. She is stubborn and headstrong, yet she compels viewers by the fact that she herself suffers from the ignorance of youth, something that resonates with audiences of all ages.
Some may actually scorn the film due to the fact that it may visibly appear to be a stream of events which are only consistent with one another in the sense they are a depiction of someone’s life. The point of “Lady Bird,” however is the fact that it’s meant to be a movie which made audiences understand the feeling of only appreciating home once an individual has learned that it truly does have a meaningful place in their seemingly small, but incredibly impactful, corner of the world.
Greta Gerwig, the director of the film, presents herself with elegance and grace in depicting Sacramento, California, her childhood home. Gerwig frames the film so that the city might be seen with the implications of a character so out of love with her home that it even takes hold of her despising what she comes from.
Lady Bird is the sort of character which speaks to viewers of all ages as she goes through the adolescent hatred for all that is known for sake of it being familiar. Ronan’s portrayal of the title character is incredibly effective as she still manages to make a seemingly bratty character into someone that’s worth rooting for. Her parents were also two characters who were cleverly cast, with Laurie Metcalf as Lady Bird’s mother, Marion McPherson and Tracy Letts as Lady Bird’s father, Larry McPherson.
A host of magnificent actors all make “Lady Bird” into a film which categorizes the many facets of the human condition, as well as human connection. When initially creating the film, Gerwig had actually wanted to create a female rendition of movies such as “Boyhood” and “The 400 Blows,” two films that deal with similar themes. In showing life as it is, rather than how we wish it to be, Gerwig was able to create a storyline which will resonate with any demographic despite the film being labeled “artistic” or “nuanced.”
At the ending of the movie, viewers will be met with the satisfaction of a conclusive but seemingly abrupt ending, something that may initially come across as a negative. In truth, however, this is the most holistic way to close the film. The entirety of the movie is shot in a series of quick and important moments in a young girl’s life over the span of her senior year. Nothing is definitive and yet that, in itself, makes the characters and the plotline more effective.
All in all, “Lady Bird” is a film worth seeing, with its incredible acting, wonderful cinematography and incredible plot line. A movie which thrives off of the fact that the simplest of truths can prove to help formulate a classical tale with long lasting resilience.
Photo courtesy of Lady Bird
- consistent but still nuanced
- great acting
- great emotional value
- meaningful dialogue and final purpose
- Occasionally choppy and ends up catering toward specific demographic unintentionally