The teen drama can be a tempestuous beast. When showing a character as coming-of-age, they run the risk of coming across too contrived, too dramatic, and lacking the realism that everyone experienced when they came of age. Lady Bird, the directing debut of actress Greta Gerwig, is one of those teen dramas, however, that lives up to the hype.
The story follows Lady Bird (Saorsie Ronan), a 17-year-old girl in Sacramento, as she navigates her last year of high school in 2002.
I know what you may be thinking: surely this is another one of those cliched, stereotypical teen films with over the top portrayals of teenage girls written by someone who most definitely never was a teenage girl? You couldn’t be more wrong.
Lady Bird McPherson is a protagonist who is emblematic of every feeling and every situation a teenage girl has ever been in. The only difference is, as much as you probably wanted to throw yourself out of a car whilst having an argument with your mum, Lady Bird actually does it.
Saorsie Ronan plays a role that somehow manages to encapsulate all of the heart of being a teenager, with all of the rage of not wanting to be one. The desire to grow up and get out of the house that you share with your overly argumentative parents is all too real and is demonstrated in a poetic, yet unbelievably accurate way.
This film is easily one of the best films of the year. I will happily go ahead and say that. It is funny, biting, and never anything less than human. The characters feel real: they feel like people I genuinely knew whilst growing up, people I was friends with. They feel like me.
A film that allows you to empathise and relate to characters is one thing, but a movie whose titular character is a pink-haired, communion-wafer eating rebel from the anaemic town of Sacramento and somehow manages to become every teenage girl in the world with ease, is another movie entirely.
It sounds trivial to make statements like this about a film that has such a simple plot and does use its fair share of cliches. However, its simplicity, and the understanding between Lady Bird and Gerwig, the director, creates something so special that the movie doesn’t need to be overwhelmingly ‘teenager’ for it to work.
Lady Bird’s encounters with boys, her desire to do anything that her mum doesn’t want her to do, and her finding her feet within her friendship group as she embarks on the biggest adventure in her life so far (college) is so relatable that I genuinely thought it was my life. However, the narrative is remarkably well balanced for a coming-of-age movie.
The trials and tribulations of teenage life are experienced by both Christine and her parents, which is probably why this film is so relatable to people of all ages. Gerwig, although she claims she wrote Lady Bird to be the exact opposite as her in high school, has created a human character who is the rebellious, non-conformist streak in all of us. This movie pulls our desire to live life our way to the forefront, in a way that is not overly intrusive, and in a way that makes us happy.
Lady Bird is a no regrets movie, which exacerbates the idea that our teenage years are the best years of our lives. The ups, the downs, the genuinely confusing moments; they all come together to create memories remembered in sepia, of times that we wish we could go back to. This movie helps you go back to that time. It’s chaotic, over the top, dramatic – but being a teenager wouldn’t have been so fun if it wasn’t like that.