Lady Bird: An exquisite piece of cinema and one of the best films of the year
With Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig has become only the fifth woman to ever be nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, as dismal and ludicrous as that sounds. It could be suggested that the Oscars can be rather reactionary, and perhaps the film will triumph on the back of #MeToo, with some voters ticking the applicable box and then heartily patting themselves on the back before infuriatingly returning to business as usual. Any tokenism shouldn’t be the reason for the feature’s award glory, because Lady Bird is an exquisite piece of cinema and is one of the best films of the year.
The setup is rather simplistic, which is is not a criticism, and the resulting emotional complexity of the movie after a fairly familiar beginning is a testament to the abilities of all concerned. Saoirse Ronan is high school senior Christine McPherson, who has renamed herself Lady Bird, and who, in the tradition of coming of age stories everywhere, well… comes of age as she navigates growing up in Sacramento in 2002 (a time that roughly equates Lady Bird’s age with Gerwig’s at the time). She frequently clashes with her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf), with the emergence of sexuality coming courtesy of the young men who enter her sphere, namely squeaky-clean Danny (Manchester by the Sea’s Lucas Hedges) and edgy Kyle (Call Me by Your Name’s Timothée Chalamet). When recounting the basics of the film, it plainly sounds like something that has been done before, so many times, and yet Gerwig’s debut has an energy and freshness that is rather mesmerising.
Ronan gives Lady Bird an intelligent, playful rebelliousness and is exceptional. And yet the emotional foundation of the picture is Marion, brought to life with a nuanced, complicated and astutely subdued performance by Laurie Metcalf, who deserves all the awards that the various film associations and academies can throw in her direction. Lady Bird possesses a quiet brilliance that will result in many audience members feeling the immediate need to call their respective mothers as the end credits roll.
Lady Bird is released nationwide on 16th February 2018.
Watch the trailer for Lady Bird here: