Maybe it’s better that I always end up writing reviews for movies weeks after they’ve been out. Maybe we should stop thinking of them as ‘reviews’. The truth is, the movies I’ve most enjoyed this past year, they’ve all been complete surprises to me. I’ve known the least going into the movies I’ve come to love the most. Maybe what I really need, what I would rather do, is get the word out there so more people will watch it, and we can all have some really great conversations. Because let me tell you, a movie like Lady Bird needs no further praise or review. It needs to be discussed. To be remembered. To linger on the mind and on the tongue long after the credits roll.
I didn’t even see this trailer before I saw the movie. I barely recognized Saoirse Ronan in the movie poster, with a side profile and her hair dyed bright red. I did know she was in the movie though, and that was about as much as I needed to entice me to see it. She was hauntingly troubled in Atonement, dangerous in Hanna, and it is to my deepest regret that I have yet to see her in Brooklyn. I know, I know. It’s on the list, okay?
Lady Bird is writer/director Greta Gerwig’s female coming of age counterpart to movies like Boyhood and 400 Blows. It centers around Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson’s wildly turbulent senior year and her aspirations for her future, investigations on love, and the volatile relationship between her and her mother. Laurie Metcalf as the mother is just incredible, alternating seamlessly between passive-aggressiveness, anger, despair, and joy as she tries her best to understand a daughter that seems so far-removed from her world.
Look I mean, I get it. Going through high school here can sometimes feel like being the only zookeeper in a zoo where the animals run the show. And there have been plenty of coming of age films of late. Hailee Steinfeld, as beautiful as she is, makes for a convincingly awkward teen in Edge of Seventeen. I’ve even gone on to peg It as not only the best horror film of the past year but also a wonderfully accurate and nostalgic coming of age piece in suburban America. But Saoirse Ronan’s ‘Lady Bird’ character is the only one whose growth and development I care about as a person, as an actual story that I think about and wonder about after the movie.
We go through a lot with Lady Bird in the course of the movie. Not one but two loves, a prom, college applications, fights with a best friend, an introduction to a passion for theater, and yet still it feels like there’s so much more we want to see and do. I can’t begin to tell you how captivated I was during the scenes between Ronan and Metcalf. Whether they’re trying to survive each other in the car or picking dresses for Thanksgiving and prom the interaction between the two seamlessly fluctuates between loving affection, violent aggression, and desperate confusion. The last scene juxtaposing mother and daughter just brought everything full circle in such an emotional and heartfelt way for me.
I saw the trailer for this film for the first time when I looked it up for this post. This movie moved me so much that just seeing the trailer made me miss looking into this world, feeling for these characters, living through this story. It reminded me of the beautiful storytelling, the gentle, faded cinematography, like reliving precious memories on VHS. I wanted to be in that car again with Lady Bird and her mother, watching for the sunlight to peek through the bridges of Sacramento.