Review: Lady Bird

Before her directorial debut with Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig had a successful acting career. She spent her time on set as an opportunity to learn, observing and asking the directors questions like a makeshift film school.

With that in mind, Gerwig intended to deviate from the male-oriented algorithm that is usually followed. She instead focusing on a female protagonist that can be relatable to young women.

The subject of the film is Christine McPherson, or “Lady Bird” as she often corrects people. It’s a name “given to me by me”, she said in the film. That sets the premise for the plot: a girl who demands a different flavor of life than the one that was given to her.

In her final year at a Catholic high school, McPherson, played by Saoirse Ronan, desperately wants to leave the suburban wasteland of Sacramento and flee to New York City for college. As protagonists go, she’s driven by a bravado and naivety that only the young can encapsulate, juxtaposing the weary, disciplinary mother who, sometimes, be perceived as the antagonist.

Gerwig successfully examines the world that Lady Bird lives in, not with a critical lens, but with an observant one. So many little specificities of the film stuck out to me, from the kilted Catholic uniforms, to the strategically placed early-2000s pop tracks, to the subtle backdrop of post-9/11 tensions and war overseas. It is through her observant and specific lens that we get a zeroed-in story, lacking any political agenda other than simply telling a story of a girl wanting more than her California lifestyle. Gerwig shows this while simultaneously making it relatable to any audience member.

Out of every shining detail, the most engaging part has to be the central focus of the film: the relationship between Lady Bird and her mother, played by Laurie Metcalf.

Although I had mentioned that she can at times be the antagonist, she is also the other half to Lady Bird’s tumultuous love story. Their relationship—the screaming-in-your-face, pushing-every-button, so-different-but-the-same relationship—is so reflective of the contemporary mother-daughter dynamic that I was brought back to my own life just a few years ago.

It is so reflective to my own experiences, that I think that’s why my brother, a domestic observer of my relationship with our mother, was the one who recommended I see Lady Bird. And why, just a week after seeing it the first time, I saw it again, but this time with her at my side.

Lady Bird is a breath of fresh air, and probably my favourite film of the year. Gerwig created a vivacious girl whose story captures the facets of female complexity. It taught me that love and attention are usually one and the same. It is love story tied to home towns, high schools, douchebags, best friends, and mothers alike, and I welcomed every minute of it.