One year ago, no one on the earth could have foretold that the next female Oscar BEST DIRECTOR nominee would be Greta Gerwig, no even Ms. Gerwig herself, if I dare to presume, yet, miracle transpires in the form of LADY BIRD, Gerwig’s solo feature directorial debut (previously she co-directed the Independent Spirt Awards nominated mumblecore NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS 2008 with Joe Swanberg), an effervescent coming-of-age story takes place in her hometown Sacramento.
Christine "Lady Bird” McPherson (Ronan) is a senior student in aCatholic high school, the film roughly covers her last year before starting her tertiary education, "Lady Bird", a named given to her by herself, has a headstrong streak written in her genes, like gazillions of other pubescent spirits peopled around our globe, she revolts against her quibbling mother Marion (Metcalf), and at the same time, desperately seeks for the latter’s validation, she wants her mother to like her (as a person), not just love her (because she is her daughter), a sagacious point poignantly reverberates with audience in its universality and intimacy, and the truth is, there are many such sensible touches populated in Gerwig’s stimulating script, which can be partially accounted for LADY BIRD’s runaway success, because empathy and amenity are like ambrosia, really as scarce as hen’s teeth under the designation of "chick flick”.
Lady Bird embraces the“me against the whole world”scenario with brio and chutzpah, throwing back talk both at home and at school in order to snatch the evanescent one-uppermanship, and makes erroneous choices in her romantic quests, both Danny (Hedges, unexpectedly versatile in projecting a tenderness that is contrarian to his braggadocious Oscar-nominated turn in MANCHESTER BY THE SEA 2016) and Kyle (Chalalmet, what a killjoy!) are anticlimactic episodes, the one with whom she attends the high school prom is actually her best friend Julie (Steffans), romance is transitory, but friends are for life, another lesson learnt after her inept hobnobbing with the popular (yet vacuous) gal Jenna (Rush) in order to catch the attention of the cool boy Kyle.
All in all, the most intense bond is of course, the familial one, on her pursuance of severing the umbilical cord, Lady Bird eventually comes to terms with her christened name, her modest, imperfect family, her benevolent and supportive father Larry (a heartwarming Letts) is laid off and has been combatting depression for a long time; her double-shift engaged nurse mother Marion’s constant nitpicking just mirrors her own apprehension that she couldn’t help her daughter to become the best version of herself in spite of the fact that she has maxed herself out. TV and stage veteran Laurie Metcalf is given a rare opportunity to shine on the bigger screen to epitomizes an ordinary mother’s broader spectrum of parenting angst and she kills it, not just in that tear-jerking car-roving moment.
Time and again,Saoirse Ronan vanishingly conceals her ethnic traits and flawlessly transmogrifies herself as a flawed American teenager in this Bildungsroman, a fiery but sensitive, opinionated yet good-natured girl who only finds what home and family means when she finally flutters away on her own. Greta Gerwig’s LADY BIRD is a rewarding chick flick equipped with heart, brain and felicity, and hope these fantastic characters will be kept in Gerwig’s next directorial outing, as viewers are compelled to wonder what will happen next.
referential points: Noah Baumbach’s FRANCES HA (2012, 6.6/10), Mike Mills’ 20TH CENTURY WOMEN (2016, 7.0/10); Jason Reitman's JUNO (2007, 8.3/10)