The Best Version of Ourselves – A Review of Lady Bird
Culture editor Jing Bo Yu reviews the critically lauded coming of age movie
I thought Lady Bird (2017) was a fantastic movie. Irish actress Saoirse Ronan follows up her amazing performance in Brooklyn (2015) with another phenomenal portrayal of a senior in high school. Lady Bird and Brooklyn are very similar movies, dealing with coming of age and handling love, while also both being exceptionally well received by critics while generating a lot of buzz going into the Oscars. I have not seen all movies favoured to receive an Oscar nomination yet, but based on what I’ve seen so far, I believe Lady Bird has a strong chance at winning in a couple of the major categories.
What I enjoyed about Lady Bird was that it was based in the early 2000s which created a coming of age story that is more relatable to current, younger audiences. The high school environment naturally feels more material and familiar. While the coming of age genre carries some tropes which are inescapable, Lady Bird was able to breathe new energy into them through clever dialogue from director Greta Gerwig that always seem to provide additional layers of character development.
An elevating aspect of the film is Lady Bird’s relationship with her mother. Veteran performer Laurie Metcalf plays the mother and she did an extraordinary job. Every scene in the movie with Lady Bird and her mother had an exceptional and overt layer of advancing the plot but also feature a beautifully constructed underlayer further developing a complex and divisive relationship established over many years. The climax of the movie is a powerful confrontation between Lady Bird and her mother. After that moment in the movie, hardly any words are exchanged between them. But what’s most brilliant about Lady Bird is while the overt relationship between Lady Bird and her mother has completely deteriorated, underneath it all, the love the two characters have has grown even more.
One of my favourite scenes of the entire year is Lady Bird’s closing monologue on the familiarity of home. Home in not just the literal sense of a house but also the knowledge of the local area and people gained only through living an extended period of somewhere. Lady Bird has a love hate relationship with her hometown of Sacramento, California, and that sense of Home is imbued with memories both good and bad which are re-enforced through daily interactions. One might be skeptical of a movie being able to accurately portray that emotion, but I think Lady Bird managed in its closing scene to depict the sentiment perfectly. It is the feeling of excitement, of facing a new environment and challenges, while also balancing the growing realization that Home will never again have that same familiar familiarity.