Wednesday, 11 July 2018

LADY BIRD (film) is darkly humourous and heartfelt

LADY BIRD - 2017
Director: Greta Gerwig.
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, and Timothée Chalamet.
Score: Jon Brion.
Cinematography: Sam Levy.
Content Advisory: R for language, sexual content, and brief graphic nudity.
Source: Rented.


In 2002, an artistically inclined seventeen-year-old girl comes of age in Sacramento, California.



I've wanted to see this movie ever since the Oscar season. It's received numerous accolades, including a Best Actress nomination for Ronan and a Best Director nomination for Gerwig, and the critics have loved it. It looks so well done.


Firstly, let me just squeal from the rooftops that I cannot wait to see Gerwig write and direct more films. I'm literally ecstatic to see her future work. Apparently she's going to remake Little Women with Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet, and I can just imagine how breathtaking it will be. Because it will be. That story was made for Gerwig to turn into a film. She'll do an impeccable job. Of course she will.
But let's talk Lady Bird.

Gerwig's writing is phenomenal. Her wit, the dry humour married with tragedy, the achingly beautiful realism infused into her script, is sublime. Her dialogue's often a bit on the nose, but I think that's the point (and it works). She's a exceptional writer, and she's an equally outstanding as a director, too. There's so much of her own life and her own heart in this movie and it clearly shows. It's a labour of love and passion.

The soundtrack is splendid. The production and sets are gorgeous, and the cinematography perfectly establishes what Gerwig admits to wanting: every shot to be "like a photograph...framed and presentable......like a memory." And that's how the scenes look; meticulously constructed frames awash in a very specific aesthetic. They're like captured memories. They make the film feel intimate - personal. If you're interested, you can even read this fascinating article where Gerwig, her cinematographer, and her colourist discuss in-depth the film's look. I found it amazing and inspiring. 
I love the devilish humour. As much as this is a painful look at the turbulence of adolescence, it's also a story bubbling with offbeat humour that stems effortlessly from its realistic characters and aided by the actors' comic timing. It's genuine, and it's frequently outrageous. It's heartwarming.


The pacing is tight, and I was invested and entertained throughout the movie. For a while I did feel like the plot lacked direction, but it soon becomes clear that this is a tale following a teenage girl's transition from home to university and her relationships with the people in her life during that time, most notably her relationship with her mother. But although coming-of-age films are nothing knew, Gerwig keeps this one fresh and amazingly unique with her own careful interpretation. She taps into the messes of a teenage girl's life from her friendships, her romantic attachments, and her family dynamics, and tends to each aspect deeply and carefully. It's a story so well told that it feels like nothing you've seen before. And as a teenage girl myself, I found myself relating a lot to Lady Bird's turbulent emotions and relationships. It's a stunning story, brilliantly conveyed.

The acting is inevitably excellent when you have a cast like this. Laurie Metcalf steals every scene she's in, but then so does Timothée Chalamet with his profound screen presence. There is just so much weight to their performances. Both actors were easily the highlights for me, although obviously Saoirse Ronan is brilliant as well, and every actor and actress acts with an equal combination of heart and skill. The characters are so well-nuanced, themselves.




Lady Bird is an extraordinary debut from Gerwig, and easily establishes her as a directorial force with which to be reckoned. The story comes straight from the heart, and explores the different kinds of relationships in a teenage girl's life with wit, sensitivity, and candour. It's a love story in more ways than one. It's a work of art.   

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