Adolescence is an incredible rich subject simply because it’s incredibly volatile depending on which character you focus on. John Hughes was a master at tapping into this genre, but many of these teenager-focused films skim over the effects that such a turbulent time has on the parents; that’s just one of the ways in which Lady Bird is incredibly original.
Lady Bird is the story of Christine (Saoirse Ronan) who prefers to go by the name of “Lady Bird.” The film follows her last year of high school as she finishes the college process, jumps from boy to boy as well as from friend groups, and we also see the struggles of her family life. Lady Bird has an incredibly intense relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf), and much of the story hinges on that.
The film is actress Greta Gerwig’s first solo directorial debut; she also wrote the fabulous screenplay. Gerwig bursts onto the scene as a director incredibly attentive to detail. Given that Lady Bird is a film that relies on relatability with the audience, Gerwig is able to find the balance between a caricature that people will recognize, and a subtlety to give her characters realism.
Gerwig’s cast is incredibly fine-tuned, from the always-great Ronan, to the underappreciated Tracy Letts as her father and Metcalf (who is stellar) as her mother, and even with young up-and-coming actors like Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) and Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name). All actors show us an incredible sense of depth that their previous roles had just gleaned to show us. The whole cast works with a kind of teamwork and rawness that keeps the audience present throughout every moment in the film. All of the characters somehow connect to you as a viewer, we all know someone in our lives that is reflected in this film, and that’s simply what makes it so enjoyable.
It’s hard to find much drawbacks from such an enjoyable, original, and fabulously crafted film; if I had to be picky, there were times when the editing was a bit too abrupt, so that the characters weren’t given time to digest what was being said to them in order to respond, this sometimes gave some scenes a certain ‘staged’ feeling. Nevertheless, Lady Bird is a breakthrough for Gerwig as a new voice in cinema, and as a critic and as a human being I cannot recommend this movie enough.