When we’re young we feel like we want to get to adulthood as quickly as possible. When we’re adults, we wish we could go back to being young.
Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, The Grand Budapest Hotel), is growing up in Sacramento and hating every small-town part of it.
She wants desperately to leave. To leave the nuns at the Catholic school she attends, to leave her mum, Laurie Metcalf (The Big Bang Theory (TV), Scream 2), who she’s always arguing with, to move on to bigger and better things.
Whilst this is going on she finds herself a boyfriend in Danny, Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), who has a secret, and then Kyle, Timothee Chalamet (Interstellar, Call Me By Your Name), who plays in a band.
She also falls out with her best friend Julie, Beanie Feldstein (Bad Neighbours 2, The Female Brain), to get in with the cool, rich kid Jenna, Odeya Rush (Goosebumps, The Giver), and argues constantly with her brother Miguel, Jordan Rodrigues (Home And Away (TV), Dance Academy: The Movie), and his girlfriend Shelly, Marielle Scott (Choice (Short), Yield Right (Short)).
Amongst all this she loses her virginity, smokes her first pot, turns eighteen, tantrums, decides she wants to be on stage, then decides she doesn’t and plays pranks on the nuns.
Lady Bird is written and directed by Greta Gerwig who previously wrote and starred in Frances Ha and China, IL for TV. Gerwig was born in Sacramento and the film, apparently, has large elements of her own life within.
Lady Bird isn’t full of car chases or explosion or good guys and bad guys. It’s a lovely, sedate but very funny and surprising tale of a young woman growing up in early 2000’s Sacramento.
Not being a woman or never having even been to Sacramento, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to relate on any level. But, much to my surprise, I found I could.
Most every teenager has argued with their parents at some point and quite a few, me included, hated the town we grew up in, we also may have got drunk and tried things we shouldn’t. I even got people to call me by my middle name for a long time, much as Christine insists everyone call her Lady Bird.
Ronan takes us through this snapshot in time beautifully. She runs through a gamut of emotions and makes us believe and feel them all along with her. We laugh when she laughs and are shocked when she’s shocked.
Metcalf is the mother whose own mother she describes as an abusive alcoholic. It’s this that perhaps explains her ‘tough-love’ stance with her daughter. She struggles to pay her compliments and can’t even admit she ‘likes’ her daughter when Lady Bird asks her outright. At one point even stopping talking to her daughter at all.
The problem, we can see, is that they are too alike. As her father says, they both have big personalities and are perhaps more similar than either wishes to acknowledge or realise.
It took a while for me to get into Lady Bird but I’m glad I stuck with it and now I can’t stop thinking about how lovely it was. It’s a short, sharp, heart-warming and funny tale that will no doubt delight as many as it infuriates.