If you’ve been following this year’s awards season, one film that is bound to come up is Lady Bird. I recently (and finally) caught it in theatres, so here are my thoughts on it.
Firstly, in the vein of #TimesUp, this film is really about the female coming-of-age experience. But it really isn’t a film like say, Suffragette, that conspicuously shines a light on gender inequality. In fact, it does none of that at all, existing simply as a portrait of teenage life, with no political agenda.
A similar film that immediately comes to my mind is Boyhood. Like Boyhood, Lady Bird channels the flow of life through the very ordinary and relatable character of Ladybird. Experiences such as applying for college, falling in love and at the core of the film, the mother-daughter experience.
One of the film’s starting scenes is an extended sequence of Ladybird (played by the amazing Saoirse Ronan) and her mother (the sublime Laurie Metcalf) in the car. Their conversation takes a turn very quickly and we get a first glimpse of this tumultuous nature of this relationship.
We see this throughout the film, when Ladybird and her mum are choosing out a dress, when Ladybird is suspended; their conversations change tune as if by the flip of a switch. Despite this conflictive front however, they make their affection and love for each other known when conversing with other characters: Lady Bird insists to Danny that her mum has a warm heart, etc.
At the core of this film is the coming-of-age process: Lady Bird does things throughout the film that she associates with coming-of-age: she loses her virginity to Kyle, she gets her drivers license, she goes to the convenience store to buy a Playgirl along with a packet of cigarettes. However, we realise that these milestones commonly associated with coming-of-age are not the catalytic events in Ladybird’s life that drives her to maturity – the result of buying those things from the convenience store is a few seconds of browsing outside the store, the drivers test earns a simple ‘yay’ from her. Her lovemaking with Kyle, to which her immediate response is an underwhelmed ‘you’re done?’, along with Kyle’s argument that she’s going to have ‘so much unspecial sex’ later on in life tells us that these were not the most significant factor in her coming of age. Instead, its her realisation of her mothers love, which comes in the truly touching final scene, where Ladybird talks to her mother on the phone through voicemail. The ending of the movie right after that is a sign of her final coming of age.
The two relationships she had are also driving forces of the film, and her teenage life. Played incredibly by Lucas Hedges and Timothee Chalamet, the characters of Danny and Kyle respectively earn their spots on Ladybirds bedroom wall. We find that despite the ephemeral nature of the two relationships, they both left a mark on her life even after she’s painted over their names from the wall – Ladybird calls her phone her tracking device, and while drunk in New York, points out the star ‘Bruce’ in the sky. Although they may seem like unimportant footnotes in the greater scheme of things, they go a long way in showing how her teenage relationships have still changed her in some way.
What I love most about the film is the often touching and highly relatable portrayal of the mother daughter relationship, as well as the smartly written dialogue, which is snappy and unpretentious while keeping me constantly interested.
Rating : 9.5/10