Lady Bird | Kilburnlad | Film | Reviews


Lady Bird

Lady Bird

Saoirse Ronan plays a very difficult teenager who is in her final year of high school in this coming-of-age story. Lady Bird is her given name, she explains, in that she gave it to herself, this seeming to be yet another act of rebellion. Artistically inclined, she is stifled by life in Sacramento and takes out most of her ire on her mother, Marion, played by Laurie Metcalf. The family isn't wealthy, and when her father loses his job things get worse. But Lady Bird doesn't let these difficulties moderate her behaviour, although her relationship with her father is entirely different to that with her mother.

Her desire is to go to an Ivy League college in a city with culture, but her mother dismisses this, citing her behaviour, which further strains their relationship. At school Lady Bird's best friend is Julie, an academically bright pupil who seems to be the antithesis of Lady Bird's rebellious self. But while Lady Bird is perhaps not the best academically, she does show artistic promise, which is put to use when she and Julie join the school's theatre programme. There she meets Danny, with whom she flirts and they are soon enjoying a romantic friendship, albeit a very proper one, for reasons we discover a bit later. Her mother is upset when Lady Bird goes to Thanksgiving at Danny's grandmother's, who happens to live in a house that Lady Bird and Julie have often stopped and admired, it being very grand. Danny's family is clearly much richer than her's.

Events lead to Lady Bird dropping out of the theatre programme and breaking up with Danny. Her new love is Kyle, a boy she saw in a band, and who she meets outside the coffee shop where she's working to earn money for college. Kyle mixes with Jenna, a worldly-wise student from a wealthy family, and Lady Bird joins their set, alienating her good friend Julia in the process. She's living a lie, having told Jenna that she lives at Danny's grandmother's house, ashamed of her own family's situation. Meanwhile, her romantic involvement with Kyle doesn't quite provide the outcome that she expected. Things come to a head on the way to the school prom, when her new friends want to divert and go somewhere else. Lady Bird eventually realises that she's with the wrong people, gets out of the car and goes to see her friend Julia. They later accompany each other to the prom.

Against her mother's wishes, but with some clandestine help from her father, Lady Bird applies to some east-coast colleges. She also has a surprisingly encouraging meeting with a nun at her Catholic school, Sister Sarah, despite the fact the she and Jenna had festooned the Sister's car with just-married paraphernalia and a 'Married to Jesus' sign. The Sister clearly sees promise in an essay that Lady Bird has written about Sacramento, despite her wish is to get away from the town. And the sister actually found the Just Married stunt amusing, especially as she had driven off with another sister not realising that the sign was there. She does point out, however, that she isn't 'just' married to Jesus, but has been for quite a while.

Perhaps Lady Bird is finally coming out of her rebellious phase.

This film was, of course, tipped for an Oscar, but in the event missed out. I found Lady Bird to be a very enjoyable film, with fine performances from Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf, along with a strong supporting cast. But I do not think it was better than The Shape of Water, in which Sally Hawkins, who also didn't win at the Oscars, gave the performance of her life. Neither do I feel that it outshone Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which earned a richly deserved Oscar for Frances McDormand.

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