In the next installment of our film series is the exquisite coming of age story, Lady Bird. Written and directed by the brilliant Greta Gerwig, (who also wrote Frances Ha- one of my favorite independent movies of recent years) Lady Bird tells the story of a young woman in Sacramento dealing with trials of family, relationships and friendships during her final year of high school. The film takes place in 2002/2003, and the walk down early 2000s memory lane is but one of many wonderfully enjoyable things about this film.
Lady Bird, is, at its core, a movie about relationships. In the male-female relationship category, we are treated to a range of beautifully accurate snapshots of Lady Bird with the men in her life, whether the tender relationship between father and daughter, the fraught relationship of sister and brother, or the tortured relationships she has with her two boyfriends in the film (played exquisitely by Lucas Hedges and Timothy Chalamet). Pictured below, “nice” boyfriend Danny O’Neill with Lady Bird in one of my favorite scenes from the film.
But where the movie really shines is in the accuracy of the female relationships that it portrays- whether between Lady Bird and her best friend (the utterly delightful Beanie Feldstein, pictured below), or with her difficult mother, played to an absolute T by Laurie Metcalf. You can always tell the difference between a female and a male writer via the complexity and beauty of the female relationships, and this is where Gerwig really shines. Lady Bird is alternately cruel and imminently supportive of her best friend, and theirs is the love upon which the movie is built. It’s a great testament to female friendships, which don’t always get their due in film.
Her relationship with her mother, on the other hand, brought back memories of every squabble I ever had with my own mother as a teenager, as filtered through an even starker lens. As I stare down the impending birth of my own daughter, I’ve given a lot of thought to how I can nurture that relationship and correct for those inevitable differences of opinion. The excruciating part about watching Lady Bird and her mother’s relationship play out, from the vantage point of being both no longer a teenager and not yet a middle aged adult, is that one is left feeling tortured for both of them. And that is why Gerwig again is so brilliant- her characters are multi dimensional- at once cruel and selfish and at other turns nurturing and sympathetic.
All in, I couldn’t recommend Lady Bird highly enough. And in case you are wondering, my husband loved it just as much. It is a wonderfully written and directed film that does a remarkable job of conveying the teenage experience in a way that is delicate and humorous. I hope that she wins all of the awards for this one- and it goes without saying that I can’t wait to see what Gerwig does next.