Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf embody parts all mothers and daughters can relate toA24

Lady Bird made a storm amongst critics and fans alike long before it was due to be released in the UK. It was (for a while) the ’best reviewed filmever on Rotten Tomatoes and has since been nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Amid all this anticipation, I read Varsity’s meagre three-star review of the film, leaving me, albeit momentarily, disappointed. Since watching it, however, my despondency has turned to pity; it would be a shame for anyone to miss out on such an affecting and original piece of cinema.

The fundamental error made in the review was its failure to recognise the film as a reflection. Gerwig explicitly created this semi-autobiographical masterpiece with the intention of it being a memory. While this perhaps limits the impact of the film to those capable of relating with the past Gerwig is reviving, for those in the know, the reconstructed narratives make the plot and characters instantly identifiable.

“We remember the pettiness of friendship drama and how heartwarming the camaraderie of teenage girls is”

The film is set in 2002. The production team sourced old copies of Seventeen magazine to litter throughout the scenes. The Call Me By Your Name-esque stillness of the setting echoes life pre-social media. Nothing about the film is intended to be fact; it is supposed to stimulate a certain aesthetic nostalgia. Gerwig is doing what we all do when remembering something: embellishing and simplifying. The reason Lady Bird’s love interests come across as two-dimensional and stunted? Because that is how they would be constructed in the memory of a teenage girl.

There is a scene half-way through Lady Bird which solidifies the film’s presence as something altogether different to the conventional coming-of-age story. Lady Bird and Kyle have just had sex. At first, I was a bit disheartened to see a seventeen-year-old girl losing her virginity so smoothly, but as soon as it was over and the innocent hopefulness of Saoirse Ronan’s character is struck down by reality, Lady Bird comments: “I was on top! Who the fuck is on top their first time?” The memory feels edited, as though Gerwig has thrown in her adult self’s deriding take on the situation. The tender humour and rare honesty of the scene make clear Gerwig’s triumph.

Trailer for Lady BirdYOUTUBE

It feels slightly limiting to even refer to Lady Bird in the bracket of the coming-of-age genre. The central relationship explored throughout the plot is that of Lady Bird and her mother. The intense, fast-paced, and distinctly fractured relationship between them captures perfectly the conflictual personalities of mothers and daughters. Raging one moment, sharing excitement over the perfect dress in another, not speaking for a week somewhere else down the line. It is a difficult dynamic to get right, but when the final scenes play and Lady Bird is at college, realising as the adult she now is how much of a child still exists within her mother, Gerwig’s success is obvious.


Mountain View

Lady Bird review: 'impossible to love'

The humour of the film is subtle, but refusing a knowing chuckle as Lady Bird is forced to learn all the lessons one now knows is difficult. Lady Bird is funny in the way that laughing retrospectively about mistakes one has made is; it requires a bit of cringe and emotion. It makes us smile too, as we remember the pettiness of friendship drama and how heartwarming the camaraderie of teenage girls is. When we come out of the fictitious world Gerwig has created, the next three hours are spent remembering our own.

The icing on the cake is how central the talent, experience, and hard work of women is to this film. It is Gerwig’s directorial debut and her incredible success leaves one in awe. Ronan and Metcalf are more than deserving of the nominations they have received. Maybe I am biased in loving this film, and maybe its market is more niche than I am doing justice. But it is an integrally personal artwork and I cannot help but pour myself into it and relish in the warmth it gives back

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