Review Lady Bird by Jonathan Evans

 

(5 / 5)

 

Is it possible for the youth to really listen to their parents when they give them advice, or do they have to live long enough to appreciate what they’re telling them? At the same time do parents really know better than their kids, or are they just set by their own experiences?

There are many stories that put forward a similar dynamic about the tension that happens between a parent and child. What is the important element is how it paints it’s world and characters and the voice it gives them.

Our first image is a mother and daughter sleeping face-to-face in a bed, they straighten out the room and head home. While driving an argument arises about Christine now wanting to be called Lady Bird and go off to attend New York college while her mother doubts her abilities, her retort is to roll out of the moving car giving her a cast for most of the movie.

Lady Bird’s goal is simple yet so connectable. She wants to forge her own identity, she rejects the name her parents gave her in favor of one she gave herself, she doesn’t listen to her mother or others telling her that there are more reasonable paths for her to take her future because she is unlike anyone else ever (in her mind). It is that time of adolescence where you begin to learn that the rules that the adults force on you are not absolute but at the same time you are probably self-obsessed. It’s just something a lot of us go through.

Saoirse Ronan embodies the character perfectly. She is already a veteran actor and perfectly masks her thick Irish accent. Because of the situation dynamic it call on her to shift moods quickly, take one scene where she’s in the midst of arguing with her mother in a store and when her mother shows her a dress she becomes joyful, or another where it starts with her seeking sympathy from her friend but it turns into a heated argument. Good script-writing can only take it so far, it needs actors to bring it to life.

Laurie Metcalf is Lady Birds mother and she is the other great pillar of a character in the tale as well as the other great performance. There are moments where she has to internalise much but persevere. Two examples are when she is dealing with a patient and what they have to tell them is heartbreaking but she still needs to ask them essential questions. The other moment is when she’s chatting with Lady Bird’s boyfriend and he says something that hurts her, the expression of hurt flashes on her face very quickly but you can feel it in that half second she has to show it.

As an experienced actor herself Greta Gerwig fits into the directing chair with great ease. Her shots are simple but greatly effective and her definite great power is to get extremely well crafted performances out of her actors. They are all perfectly capable actors themselves but Gerwig adjusts them for the right level of funny, furious, vulnerable and sad.

Because Lady Bird’s self obsession lends itself to revelations about other characters. She becomes more sympathetic to others and picks up on details. It is an organic and refreshing way of having character revelations that is not contrived.

Lady Bird has the same subject matter as many other movies that I could name. But what matters is how such subject matter is framed and crafted. It is framed by a woman that is in her thirties so she has been the adolescent daughter but is also entering the age of the mother so she is at a point where she can gauge both perspectives. It is an experience which eloquently portrays the zany energy and sass of youth and the melancholy of looking back as an adult.

Jonathan Evans

 

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