Saturday, March 3, 2018

Lady Bird

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is not a big fan of life in Sacramento. Almost done with her senior year at a Catholic high school, she believes that her future awaits at the east coast, far from the cultural stagnation hounding her in California. Her teenage angst serves as a constant trigger for her misunderstandings with her mother. Marion McPherson (Laurie Metcalf) loves her daughter alright, but thinks that she needs to be in touch with reality and be more appreciative of what they are giving her. Lady Bird struggles to be amicable with her family as she attempts to navigate the ups and downs of adolescence, celebrating the highs and bemoaning the lows.

It’s one of those hilarious movies where some random scene comes up and for whatever reason you find yourself just laughing out loud but you don’t know why. It obviously has something to do with the funny dialogues along with some really absurd scenarios that only seem to be so because you are seeing them on the big screen, eventually realizing that it is something you would actually hear or witness in real life. Or perhaps the fascination stems from familiarity? We’ve all been there, the whole teenage angst package: losing your virginity, prom, college applications, etc. You know, back when everything was a matter of life and death, back when you gave yourself the benefit of a doubt that you can conquer the world.

It’s that nostalgia that will fuel your appreciation for this film. High School seems like just yesterday, until you realize that everyone is getting married and having kids. In life many people seem to be in denial that all of us will eventually get old, but that doesn’t mean that you have to grow up. Perhaps it is that trip down memory lane that makes Lady Bird so damn relatable. It just brings you back to that same point in your life, those carefree days that made you feel success would be just within reach because everything can be calculated, except that it’s just not the case.

Lady Bird is a celebration of the mundane. Just like many other reviews have already stated, such a film reminds you that life is life. You live it. It doesn’t have to be extraordinary. It just has to be yours. Maybe what makes it a great narrative is how ordinary it appears to be. In a year of films packed with social relevance tackling major issues that deal with empowerment of the oppressed, Greta Gerwig’s contribution brings back the emphasis to oneself. The film serves as some sort of introspection, an analysis on how one navigates life through the lens of career and family. It reminds us that such theme is also important. After all, you can’t effect change if you don’t begin with yourself.

Is it just me or is Ronan starting to resemble a younger Kate Winslet more and more as the years go by? But that’s just an observation, the real issue here is the acting. To be that young and already on your third Oscar nomination is no easy feat. Given the strong competition this year, she probably won’t win, but if she maintains this career trajectory she’ll surely be nominated again and again. In Lady Bird she portrays an adolescent who feels there must be more in store for her other than living the typical teenage life. While there is nothing overly dramatic about it, it’s the honesty of the portrayal that grabs your attention, the way she effectively captures that thin line between idealism and naivety typical of adolescence.

A sequel would be nice. Perhaps five or ten years down the road Gerwig can tell us what happens to Christine as her perspectives in life change. How will maturity play a role in her new worldview? Will the idealist in her be supplanted by the jaded existence most people tend to experience once they hit their late twenties? For the younger generation, it will be viewed as personal evolution. It’s always nice to grow up with a film and its set of characters. But then again for those one generation up, it will always be about the nostalgia, a good way of immortalizing the pains of growing up through the magic of cinema.

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