Giving the ‘high five’ to the rare exclusive club of women recognized by the Academy for nominations as the best director, LADY BIRD, the directorial debut of mumblecore genre fame actor and writer Greta Gerwig is sweet, spirited, delightful & insightful. Greta has joined the list of Lina Wertmüller (SEVEN BEAUTIES), Jane Campion (THE PIANO), Sofia Coppola (LOST IN TRANSLATION) and Kathryn Bigelow (THE HURT LOCKER – – the only one winner as woman director in the coveted 90 year old history of Oscars).
A well realized and satisfying study of a generation caught between the push and pull of the demands of the current century and pull of the post 9/11 cynicism with an indie flair, style, sensibility, honesty and wittiness that come with some harsh realities.
Greta Gerwig who made the first noise as an actress in LOL and then got famous with the same director Swanberg’s HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS as the blonde with those tousled hair constantly teased by her idea of relationship and sexuality. The mumblecore genre favorite of the last decade makes a wonderful debut as a helmer in a movie that reflects the mindset of a teen which probably could have been Greta we know on screen.
The anxiety, aspirations of a high school senior caught between the urge to earn her independence and search for a perfect date in Sacramento – the capital of California, is well captured by Greta Gregwig in this beautiful, indie little coming of age gem that is further shined and polished by the young Saoirse Ronan’s endearingly amazing and veteran Laurie Metcalf’s brilliant performance.
Greta Gerwig pens the script of this indie coming of age that offers a subtle tribute to the mumblecore genre – a genre born from the belief of emphasizing on the personal relationships of people in age group of 20 -30, where more attention is given to improvisation in dialogues and natural acting over the plot keeping in mind the limitations of the budget – basically a sub genre of indie in short). Greta Gerwig’s LADY BIRD proudly carries the complexities and exuberance of the youth in the plot which isn’t groundbreaking as such but the threads that get weaved in this funny, realistic and thought provoking bond between a mother (Laurie Metcalf) and her teenage daughter (Saoirse Ronan) results in a heartfelt and bittersweet conversion that is rare in coming of age sagas.
Set in 2002-2003, LADY BIRDMcPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is a final year student in a Catholic school. LADY BIRD actual name Christine is against the rules imposed by the school and LADY BIRD is a statement in the name that is against her believes. LADY BIRD is pissed off by her mom’s Marion (Laurie Metcalf) constant nagging and realizations that they are a ‘middle class’ family. She is caring from heart but worries regarding her husband Larry (Tracy Letts) joblessness and struggle to find a new one makes her more cynical then she actually is, Greta Gerwig establishes both the characters smartly and succeeds in making the instant connection. The Mom is forced to work double shifts at the hospital to make up for her husband joblessness and the worry is justified.
LADY BIRD in the company of her best friend Julie Steffans (Beanie Feldstein) confronts her Mom at home and amusingly shares her inhibitions at the law and order enforcements of the Catholic school. Anyways, the senior nun Sister Sarah Joan (Lois Smith) has some ‘real’ conversations with Lady Bird.
A coming of age is incomplete without romantic adventures and here LADY BIRD explores her heart beginning with Danny O’Neill (Lucas Hedges) her co artiste in the school theatre and later with Kyle (Timothee Chalamet). Greta Gerwig brilliantly scores here showing incredible skills as she shows the understanding in presenting the hesitations, awkwardness, infatuations, those uncertainties in the fleeting moments of making up and uncontrolled desires of the youth that matches with their enthusiasms to get on with life. The lovely transition from adolescent to adulthood charms you.
Greta Gerwig doesn,t paint LADY BIRD as a downright rebel with radical tones, basically the central character does has her view and colour of hair even her own name but she is emotionally grounded. She has feelings for her mom and dad. She not the one who wants a different world altogether, she wants some space and freedom.
Lady Bird’s equation with her dad is another highlight, she doesn’t hates her dad who is jobless in fact she shares a special bonding with him and here we see them shortening the bridge between generations. Sometimes it feels that he is too good to be in this world.
The plot isn’t groundbreaking as said earlier but Greta Gerwig’s presentation is smooth with an undercurrent of teenage impulsive impudence. The movie is constantly powered by Saoirse Ronan’s all the way endearing and winning performance. Nominated as best actor for the Oscars, Ronan was previously nominated in the same category for her role in BROOKLYN. Having an incredible knack of dialogue delivery which is very uncommon, Ronan has a tough competition this time also. Let the best win. Probably Ronan has the meatier role of her carrier in LADY BIRD, and may be this is her ‘best version’ till date. Let’s wait.
Laurie Metcalf as the Mom is exceptional and as father Tracy Letts is superb. Lucas Hedges is brilliant. Timothée Chalamet is charming and Julie Steffans is bubbly.
Greta Gerwig is an accomplished art house performer and LADY BIRD is her wonderful debut as a director. The movie plotline isn’t groundbreaking as said earlier but it’s an indie felt from the bottom of the heart of the onscreen Greta if she was 16 -17 year old today.
Winner of the best motion picture – Musical or Comedy at the 75th Golden Globe Awards, LADY BIRD is undeniably a rare indie gem on adolescence seen in recent times. Don’t miss it.