- 23 Feb 18
The film opens in Irish theatres today and is not to be missed.
Christine McPherson is a girl overflowing with unflappable certainty, and stifling insecurity. She is headstrong but wants to fit in, has lofty ambitions but no work ethic, loves her mother and snaps at her constantly. She is a creature who is delicate but longs to explore the world on her own, which is perhaps why she calls herself Lady Bird.
In short, she’s a teenage girl.
Saoirse Ronan gives the warmest, funniest and most nuanced performance of her career in Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, which charts Lady Bird’s final year in highschool, and her irrepressible desire for something, anything, more. Discontent and disillusioned in her sleepy Sacramento neighbourhood, she’s certain she deserves a life filled with culture, intellectualism and adventure – dreams she constantly, snarkily expresses to her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf). In Lady Bird’s forgivable, youthful self-centeredness, she doesn’t notice how these complaints multi-task as attacks; constant criticisms of the life her mother has crafted. But we do.
However, the genius of Lady Bird lies in the simpatico relationship between Ronan and Gerwig. Ronan’s winning performance captures the infuriating and loveable nature of adolescence, while the director cannily telegraphs the trouble coming her way, in the form of her romantic interests (Lucas Hedges and Timothee Chalamet), mean popular kids, and her family’s financial struggles.
Also captured is the complex nature of the mother-daughter relationship, thrown into new tenuousness during a girl’s teenage years. Metcalf is stunning, capturing the ferociousness of Marion’s love and frustration. Ronan and Metcalf are an irresistible pairing, their hilariously snarky fights transforming into appreciative tenderness in the blink of an eye – and vice-versa.
Gerwig imbues the film with authenticity, from the interactions between the characters, Lady Bird’s awkward sexual encounters, and the music and fashion of its 2002 setting. Though not explicitly referenced, the post-9/11 era adds yet another layer to this young woman’s search for meaning.
Lady Bird, above all, wants to be part of something big. And now she is – she’s the sensational lead character in one of the most winning, witty and wise films of the year.