Handed to me in the form of wonderful nostalgic emotion and humour, Lady Bird (2017) was a delight, and a film that you should definitely go and see if you want to laugh and be moved all at once this summer.
Director Greta Gerwig quickly and brilliantly establishes a strained, yet loving, mother-daughter relationship between Ladybird (Saoirse Ronan) and her mum Marion (Laurie Metcalf), who are two very hot-headed, heartfelt characters that are constantly in conflict with each other. Ladybird’s own immaturity as a teenage girl is also evident when she throws herself out of their moving car, in an effort to get away from her mum’s squabbling. Gerwig instantly has the audience laughing their heads off and connecting to the characters and their relationship. It’s difficult to make a film that both moves you and sets you off in fits of laughter; I was very glad to find that Lady Bird did exactly that.
With Juno-esque style and dialogue, I couldn’t help falling in love with this well thought out and meticulously performed film. Each character, no matter how important, is intriguing and so wonderfully wacky that they could only be real. Ronan delivered the performance of Ladybird to a T, capturing the naivety and confidence of a girl still figuring out who she really is—and, more importantly, who she can be.
This is a coming-of-age story done right. Set in 2002, with a soundtrack made up of artists like Dave Matthews and Justin Timberlake, this film will bring many young people to fall head-over-heels in nostalgic love with it, just as I did. The story takes us all back to our first kiss, our first love, our first heartbreak, our first puff on a joint and our one of many moments getting caught by our parents in the act. Yet, despite all its hilarity, Gerwig carefully juxtaposes the light with the dark, pulling us back in with more serious moments of internal conflict and emotion. Like when Ladybird loses her virginity to a guy who finishes in two seconds and couldn’t care less about it, or when she finds out her dad is depressed and her mum seems to think she is to blame. The dramatic content here isn’t hard to find and it can be heart-wrenchingly relatable.
As Gerwig’s solo directorial debut, I couldn’t admire her work more, and I was left personally inspired by her coming-of-age story and the characterisation of such complicated people caught up in complicated relationships. The story could only end with Ladybird becoming a better person—“the best person you can be”, as her mother puts it—and as we watch Ladybird paint over her old childhood walls and start a new life for herself, we can see how much she has changed. Because honestly, who would we be now if it weren’t for all our drama-filled, rebellious teenage days? I know I, for one, wouldn’t be the same.
Lady Bird is in screening at Luna Leederville and Luna SX from February 15.