DIRECTOR: Greta Gerwig STARRING: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Odeya Rush USA 2017
Let me gaze into my retroactive crystal ball and take a wild guess as to what your teenage years were like: your hometown was dull, mom and dad were total squares, the teachers were full of shit, the jocks were assholes, the popular cheerleaders were shallow, there was too much gossip and you had the hots for someone but somehow thought they were the greatest love of your life. Oh, and no one understood your Avant-Garde ideals and ambitions. Does any of this ring a bell?
Lady Bird understands your old you, though. Its depiction of adolescence and high school life comes unfiltered in a comically realistic way, so much so that you’ll see yourself in at least one of this film’s characters. This might sound as cliché as my description of adolescence in the first paragraph, but I couldn’t help but identify myself in Saoirse Ronan’s Lady Bird McPherson: she wants to escape into another world, somewhere where culture and interesting people and ideas reign, but in the meantime she is stuck in Sacramento, California (hey, that city gave us the Deftones, dammit!), trying to find a college that will accept her within her family’s economic constraints and growing in volatility into early adulthood. Ronan is this film’s heart and soul, but her mother, portrayed by Laurie Metcalf, is its down to earth brain, acting as a sobering voice of reason through the film’s reality. Also, Greta Gerwig directed feels focused and very much aware of the film’s context and need for a suitable tone.
The universal veracity of this film will keep most engaged and laughing out loud in some moments (I know I did), but apart from its commendable raw honesty, Lady Bird does not offer anything we haven’t seen yet. Very few surprises are thrown at the viewer throughout the runtime, and there really isn’t that much to discuss at the end. The film, like our troubled growth, just is. There is no grand statement. But it does lead you on a possibly traumatic but positively hilarious trip down Memory Lane.