“Lady Bird McPherson” (Saoirse Ronan) and “Marion McPherson” (Laurie Metcalf) are mother and daughter. They fight and spar like many mothers and daughters do, they are so much alike without ever recognizing this simple fact.
Stuck in the middle is well meaning dad (Tracy Letts), just wanting them to get along and admit they both love each other dearly. Although Lady Bird has not reached that conclusion yet, arguably the point of the film.
Deciding that instead of continuing an argument, Lady Bird throws herself out of a moving car and then spends most of the movie with her arm in a cast. Anyone with teenage children might recognise such behaviour, albeit an extreme example.
Lady Bird’s best friend is “Julie” (Beanie Feldstein), nobody’s idea of the coolest kid in class but a real genuine friend.
Lady Bird has dreams of attending a good college, well away from the Sacramento high school she currently studies at. Mum and Dad have no money and finances are getting tighter, despite Mum working hard at the local hospital. Watch with amusement her education counselor’s reaction, when discussing “Yale”.
These are basically good people, trying to make ends meet and make realistic dreams and aspirations. A film about growing up, learning independence, falling in love, being disappointed and just maybe, finding yourself along the way.
Anyone who has ever grown up, which is most of us, should be able to relate to this film. Arguably mothers and daughters might find more “that’s just like us” moments but this is no “chick flick”.
The acting as you would expect is top notch, Ronan has established serious acting chops already and Metcalf has proven time and again, she can outgrow her small screen roots.
Lett’s also puts in a good turn as long suffering dad, acting exactly how you might imagine someone in that situation would react. Timothée Chalamet who seems to be in everything at the moment, does his usual “cool shtick” with some aplomb but only gets a few key scenes.
Final word goes to Feldstein who in a less showy role, manages to convey all the pain and heartache of being a “real” friend. Needed one minute, discarded the next and so on, she manages to bring real emotion to what could have been a cardboard cutout role. It’s also clear the actors get on, the friendship chemistry between them certainly appears real.
So a film about nothing and everything, written and directed by actress Greta Gerwig. The film, director and actresses were all nominated for awards, despite not eventually winning any Oscar nods. However, for a film written, directed and starring women in Hollywood 2018, this remains a massive step in the right direction.
For all those viewers with teenage kids, you will empathize. For all those without or getting there, be relieved and yet sad at the same time.
As they say, “nothing worth having, ever comes easy….”