The relationships between mothers and daughters are more complex than black holes and this inspired Greta Gerwig to make a lively coming-of-age comedy. Lady Bird has catapulted her to being one of the female directors on whom America relies in this Time’s Up age.
Lady Bird didn’t just appear out of nowhere. As a student, director and screenwriter Greta Gerwig was involved in low-fi films known as mumblecore. Along with director Noah Baumbach (Margot at the Wedding), who is now her partner, she came up with Frances Ha, an Annie Hall for millennials, and she was brilliant in the leading role of the 27-year-old who for too long has been hoping in vain to get a job as a dancer.
With her ravishing appearance, sense of humour, and natural performances, she will always find work as an actress. She sparkled in Damsels in Distress, To Rome with Love, Jackie, and 20th Century Women. But Gerwig is too much of a storyteller with her own voice and perspective on things just to act.
Her first solo as a screenwriter and director is a total bull’s-eye. According to the website Rotten Tomatoes, Lady Bird is the best-reviewed film of all time, and it was nominated for five Academy Awards. It didn’t win any of them, but let’s not let that spoil the fun.
Lady Bird is a sensitive but far from fragile, funny but far from inane semi-autobiographical coming-of-age film. Saoirse Ronan (The Grand Budapest Hotel) confirms her tremendous talent in the title role. Lady Bird is the name that the seventeen-year-old Christine decided to give herself. This odd-ball desperately wants to leave the nest and go as far away as possible from her home, boring Sacramento, and her Catholic girls’ school.
With her unnuanced opinions, an uncontrollable urge for a grander life in a city that does have culture, and the overconfidence of every seventeen-year-old, she sometimes makes a mess of things.
... but far from fragile
The film focuses on her turbulent relationship with her hard-working and equally stubborn mother. In less than a second, they go from adoration to war and back again.
Gerwig’s combination of disarming honesty, attentive refinement, and hopeful humour is a recipe that leaves you wanting more.