Lady Bird (2017)
Exuding passion, affection & honesty throughout, indie darling Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut is a labour of love that’s heartfelt, nostalgic, whimsical, amusing & above all, genuine. Crafted with care, told with sincerity & radiating a sense of warmth from the first frame to the last, Lady Bird is an amalgamation of everything that one would imagine Greta Gerwig to be.
Set in 2002 in Sacramento, California, the story of Lady Bird follows a 17-year old high school senior who longs to attend college in a city that has culture. The plot covers her final year at high school where she participates in a theatre program, has a series of first-time experiences, and starts applying for out-of-state colleges in order to get away from her family & small town life.
Written & directed by Greta Gerwig, every aspect of Lady Bird screams her name right down to the bone. Every moment, every character, every interaction, every creative choice carries her signature. It’s so tightly knitted with Gerwig’s very own personality that the film defines her and she defines this film. And that gives it a uniqueness, an authenticity & an originality that’s rarely found in a debut effort.
All the characters & their respective arcs exhibit sufficient depth & richness, their interaction carries a real vibe too, and their actions are just as relatable. The early 2000s setting is wonderfully recreated with era-specific fashion & musical trends and it captures that cusp of adulthood moment with finesse. Also present in high dosage is the quirkiness & effervescent wit that one associates with Greta Gerwig.
Despite all the coming-of-age elements, the core ingredient that drives Lady Bird from start to finish is the mother-daughter relationship and though we see them both arguing about the smallest of things, their underlying love is deeply felt at all times. Gerwig has created something that’s personal, poignant, intimate, melancholic & reminiscent all at once and in one way or another, no matter how small or big, some part of it will strike a chord with almost every viewer.
Coming to the performances, Lady Bird packs a committed cast in Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Beanie Feldstein, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges & Timothée Chalamet, with Ronan & Metcalf impressing the most. Ronan brings a charm of her own to infuse life into a character that’s tailor-made for Gerwig herself. Metcalf is even better and the mother-daughter chemistry between the two is electric. The rest of the cast is no slouch in their given roles and play their part responsibly.
On an overall scale, Lady Bird is a dream start to Greta Gerwig’s directorial career and isn’t just one of the best films of its year but is impressive enough to rank amongst the finest examples of its genre. A cinematic equivalent of joy that’s as lively, friendly, cheerful, jubilant, gleeful, lighthearted, adventurous & vivacious as its creator, Lady Bird commences a new chapter in Greta Gerwig’s life on the best possible note with a promise of greater things to come. Definitely recommended.