Lady Bird review
Teenagers today may think their more advanced then teens of the past, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. True, technology has made the world smaller for them and they have a greater access of content, but as soon as they enter high school, a lot of those kids cannot fathom a world where despite talking about serious issues, they are still treated like children. They wouldn't believe it, but that's been the American teenage lifestyle for a long time. They want to be seen for their individuality and their enthusiasm to try and make a difference. They definitely deserve to be heard, but perspective is something that cannot gain until they experience it.
Kids need to trial the complications of school, work, relationships, sex, and even of their own hobbies. What separates newer kids today is that because of social media and an overuse of the Internet, many assume that just seeing more of that can substitute for the real thing. No matter what background they come from, they'll see the troubles of all those things once they actually encounter them. For one teenage girl, she experiences all of that and them some in Lady Bird.
Christine "Lady Bird" (played by Saoirse Ronan) is just starting her last year in a Catholic high school where her hope is to get away from Sacramento and move to New York. She see's it as an escape from her tough willed mother Marion (played by Laurie Metcalf), her more understanding, but depressed father Larry (played by Tracy Letts), and from a place where she feels is nowhere. She talks about those dreams with her closest friend Julianne (played by Beanie Feldstien). Lady Bird is then told that if she wants a chance to get into any out of state schools, she'll have to participate in extra curricular activities to make up for her okay grades.
She joins theater. At first this seems successful, with her performing in the fall play, and even gaining a boyfriend Danny (played by Lucas Hedges). When things go wrong, she continues to look for ways to fit in with the popular "cool" crowd, which includes rich girl Jenna, and another boyfriend, the rocker emo Kyle (played by Timothee Chalamat). She also continues to battle her mother while keeping it secret that most of the schools she applied to were out of state.
On the surface, Lady Bird seems to hit a lot of tropes that many teen films have already covered. The angst teenager, wanting to be popular, getting the boy of her, dreams, you know the drill. What separates it is how the script (written and directed by Greta Gerwig) plays out many of these moments. First, many scenes are presented in mid conversation. This oddly not only feels a bit more like how adult come into teenage monologues, but this gives us more of a chance to fill in the gaps to see how much the characters know. Second, none of the things "Lady Bird" is trying to do isn't an overall goal, but presented as things that could help.
The main relationship that is the focus is on "Lady Bird" and her mother. I have to give this a lot of credit given how a lot of stories tend to shoe teenage girls having the rough relationship with their father, but people tend to forget that mothers can be just as hard on girls. This is why both Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf are perfect for their characters. Their both flawed people, and seeing how things play out for them is interesting. They can both say really mean things and good things, yet it never goes too far, cause they know they need each other for their purposes.
I've praised her before, but Saoirse Ronan is a phenomenal actress who isn't just a nice face, but has the skill to make herself awkward enough for her to appear normal. It's easy to notice that she has an acne-ridden face (I want to know how she was convinced to go with that), which is also something film rarely portrays. I think there is a fear that pimples or any imperfections on a woman are sinful. Not all girls will have faces and bodies of goddesses. I give Greta Gerwig credit wanting to portray teenagers in an unappealing way; harsh, yet often the case anyway for insecure people.
I'll give this five graded math quizzes out of five. Lady Bird may sound run of the mill, but I promise that the movie does feel a lot different from other teenage movies (I still consider Mean Girls and The Perks of Being a Wallflower the best). Teenage life isn't easy, but this movie shows how they won't see the truth until the witness the perspective. Check it out, and see if you'll grow up too.