The trailer for Lady Bird is one of the best things I watched last year: the scene where Saoirse Ronan’s character dives sideways out the passenger seat and onto the road cracks me up every time. While the laughs do make for great advertisement, they also spoil the potential laughter that could have been saved for the movie’s big screen debut; honestly, I felt like there wasn’t a whole lot left to chuckle at that I hadn’t already seen in the preview. To be fair, the film makes up for it in emotional depth.
Lady Bird has thrived this year, sweeping up awards and earning over 4 times its budget – which is impressive given its low budget of $10 million. To everyone’s surprise, director Greta Gerwig beat out other strong directors such as Jordan Peele, James Franco, and Craig Gillespie. Similarly, Ronan’s name was announced in the midst of veteran actresses, including Judi Dench, Helen Mirren and Emma Stone. Considering that Ronan is only 23 and that the movie is Gerwig’s directorial debut, it’s pretty amazing. The Oscars are coming up in a couple weeks, and with its five nominations (Best Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay) and winning streak so far, it has a good chance of taking home at least one.
The only Greta Gerwig movie I’ve seen in full is Damsels in Distress, and I did not enjoy it. Perhaps now that I’m in college I would, but it was confusing and dull, and I assumed that Gerwig’s offbeat, quirky humor wouldn’t appeal to me in any of her other movies. Needless to say, I judged too soon. Lady Bird is a coming-of-age “dramedy,” partly based on Gerwig’s own life, about a rebellious, ambitious (or “snobby” as her mother would say), go-getter high school senior. She insists on being called “Lady Bird” rather than her birth name, Christine, and even pastes her head onto pictures of long-legged birds for her presidential campaign. We see a little bit of everything about Lady Bird’s life: her tumultuous relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf), her first boyfriends, her desire for popularity, her adviser who tells her to be “realistic” in choosing colleges, etc.
I couldn’t help but like Lady Bird because despite making some (morally) questionable and bad choices, her heart always ends up in the right place. The credit, of course, all goes to Ronan, who brings an irresistible charm to her role. Active in Hollywood since 2007, she has already whisked up three Oscar nominations, the first of which occurred when she was 13. Her bare face, fading-pink hair and flawless American accent (Irish in real life) are phenomenal. Metcalf is fantastic as her overbearing but caring mother, and the same goes for the rest of the superb cast. Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet star as Lady Bird’s two love interests. Last year, Hedges was an Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actor and Chalamet has been nominated for Best Lead Actor this year which I think is telling of the quality of the young actors in this film.
In a sense, Lady Bird was very, very real. I think that it worked both to its advantage and disadvantage. It reminded me of all the embarrassment, stress and let-downs that high school (and college) consist of, and was somewhat hard to watch. In many ways, it is a poignantly sad movie. I expected I would come out feeling happy, and instead a mix of emotions stirred inside my stomach. But is it good? Yes. Relatable and thoughtful? Without doubt. Actually worth watching? Absolutely. And perhaps even more so for us students.
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