Lady Bird review: Saoirse Ronan and Greta Gerwig take us back to the 2002 in this tale of those tumultuous teenage years.
Lady Bird review, Kat Hughes.
Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is a teenage girl growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in Sacramento, California. Despite having loving and dedicated parents (Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts), and an adorable BFF (Beanie Feldstein), Lady Bird is at odds with the world. She wants out of sleepy Sacramento and dreams of a future in a far away East Coast college. That dream in itself causes more conflict as her parents can’t afford to pay for tuition at an East Coast school, and Lady Bird might not be smart enough to get in on a scholarship alone. In a bid to make herself more appealing to prospective colleges she joins the schools musical and soon finds her life starting to unravel as she has her first tastes of love, heartache, fights and friendship.
Saoirse Ronan continues to make interesting choices with her projects, though this feels like one she was born to play. Ronan is one of the prime examples of an actor with chameleon like qualities, somehow, no matter the role, she seems to effortlessly embody that character and breathes life into them. Lady Bird is no exception, and despite being a 23 year-old young woman from Ireland (with a heavy Irish accent), she has the audience completely believing her as a late teenage Californian. Ronan perfectly embodies that frenetic roller-coaster of emotions that is puberty, she flits between happy, sad, calm, angry, excited and melancholy as fast as a snap of the fingers.
The ease of Ronan’s performance, along with the rest of the cast, can clearly be attributed to some fantastic directing from fellow actor Greta Gerwig. Lady Bird is Gerwig’s second feature and shows a great deal of talent. She also wrote the film, and despite admissions that her teenage self was nothing like Lady Bird, feels very personal and intimate. Her writing feels genuine, the words natural, and gives the movie a very real energy.
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Despite being set in the recent past of 2002, the themes and issues raised in Lady Bird are just as relevant in the current climate. No matter what era, the teenage years are awkward and traumatic for everyone. Everybody can relate to aspects of Lady Bird’s journey which adds a nice universal appeal. Older viewers can watch with those old rose-tinted spectacles, nostalgic feelings for yesteryear mixing with a flood relief that those years are long gone. Those young enough to still be in the throws of the emotional whirlpool will instead gravitate towards Lady Bird and Jules – tangible on-screen characters to whom they can relate.
A film all about the complex relationships between parents and children, this tale will resonate with many. Although Lady Bird hones in on bickering mother and daughter, the dynamic will be recognisable to most as a perfect example of how teenagers interact with their parental units. Events towards the end tug on the heartstrings and will have many clambering to call their folks post credits to apologise for being such monsters.
Lady Bird review, Kat Hughes, February 2018.
Lady Bird releases in limited UK cinemas on 16th February, before releasing wide on Friday 23rd February 2018.