In a witty way, LADY BIRD has plenty to say
There is a reason why Lady Bird (2017) has critics and audiences raving. It is a great film. To simply say that it is a ‘coming of age film’, would be generalizing it’s relevance and unique impact on relatable storytelling . To put it simply, the film is a mother and daughter relationship story with a very smart script.
Saoirse Ronan plays Christine McPherson, who prefers to use the nickname ‘Lady Bird’. Laurie Metcalf plays Lady Bird’s mother, Marion. Their mother/daughter relationship is continually ‘on and off’. The opening of the film has Lady Bird and her mother in a car, in transit to their new home in Sacramento, CA . While they are discussing schools Lady Bird mentions how she is considering enrolling at a school in New York. Their discussion intensifies following the news, transitioning into a fierce argument between Lady Bird and her mother. When Lady Bird finally decides she has had enough, she opens her car door (while the car is still in motion), and she throws herself out onto the road. The scene is sudden and shocking, yet hilarious to watch. That scene sets the tone for the rest of the film – Lady Bird’s bright pink arm cast then acting as a constant reminder of Lady Bird’s tendencies toward making brash and abrupt decisions, as well as her constant and ongoing struggles for proper and respectful communication with her mother. Nearly every scene with Lady Bird and her mother, exemplifies the ‘communication roller coaster’ that they both suffer through while in each other’s company. While entertaining to watch, their scenes together show the lengths they are both willing to take to function as a mother and daughter duo.
Following the opening credits, we are introduced to Lady Bird’s friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein). The girls are shown enjoying taunting Bird’s brother Miguel (Jordan Rodrigues) at his place of work. Miguel’s girlfriend Shelly (Marielle Scott) lives with Lady Bird’s family and rarely speaks, other than to make a random comment. Lady Bird develops a crush on a classmate, Danny O’Neill (Lucas Hedges), while trying out for a school play. When their relationship does not work out, she shifts her focus on developing a friendship with the popular girl, Jenna (Odeya Rush). Through Jenna, Lady Bird meets Kyle (Timothee Chalamet), while watching his band perform. While Lady Bird experiences a number of relationships through friends and school, it is the relationship with her mother that seems to develop and mature throughout the film.
Lady Bird is writer and director Greta Gerwig’s second feature film. She does an exceptional job with creating a palpable and relatable story involving these characters. The drama feels real. The humor is fast, dark, witty, and a bit twisted. It is clear that Gerwig was influenced by films like Clueless (1995), Pretty in Pink (1986), Sixteen Candles (1984), and Mean Girls (2004), simply by recognizing the similarities in plot patterns and details.
There’s unconventional humor here. If watching two private school girls conversing and laughing, while devouring Communion wafers out of a container as if they were a can of Pringles disturbs or offends you, then you may want to consider seeing another film. Otherwise, go see this one. Today.