An Oscar nomination is something that shines bright in one’s career, but the true value is the honesty a movie provides its audience. Not one of the Best Picture nominees this year were as tender and self-effacing as Lady Bird. Even without a gold statue, the film’s writer and director, Greta Gerwig, has created something that has many relatable moments embedded to it that at times it all feels too real.
Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), a bored Catholic school student, takes pride in being different to everyone else around her. She has pink hair, a feisty personality and often snobbishly disregards her small hometown in Sacramento as “the Midwest of California.” We are invited into her (at times) strained relationship with her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf), mid-road trip as they sob to the ending of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath on tape. Once tears are shed, one wants to listen to music, the other wants to reflect on the final moving passage. The moment of bonding appears to have vanished as the two begin to argue, which results to familiar moments seen within promotional clips: Lady Bird unfastens her seatbelt, opens the car door and leaves the moving vehicle.
That scene alone opens the door for us to explore the mother and daughter relationship in depth and get tangled in a web thinking about our own relations with our parents. Throughout the film we see their bond changing within Greta’s self-written narrative. There are dramatic points (such as when Lady Bird’s highlighter pink pot has been signed ‘fuck you mom’; happy moments (a mother and daughter shopping trip) and even the sad moments (Marion seeing Lady Bird heartbroken).
The truth is, this isn’t a typical drama inflicted film about raw emotions within a personal relationship, it emphasises the growth a teenager must go through. The movie delves into the realistic exploration of teen relationships and milestones that come from them. For Lady Bird that’s losing her virginity (“I was on top! Who the fuck is on top the first time?.”), ending her relationship with her first boyfriend (Luke Hedges), falling for someone new (Timothée Chalamet) and learning a lesson from that after losing her best friend (Beanie Feldstein). Gerwig’s rich yet extremely raw screenplay defines her solid understanding of those experiences, and doing so bringing a true representation of that to the big screen.
Saoirse Ronan received her third-Oscar nomination for her captivating performance as the titular role in the film. An unsurprising nod to her acting abilities. Ronan’s natural connection with Laurie Metcalf (Marion) allowed the mother-daughter relationship to be seen as sentimental, and at times devastatingly real.
This isn’t just a coming of age story, Lady Bird is a depiction that reflects on the happy and dramatic times, as well as the mistakes that are made throughout the teenage years. Greta Gerwig has created a film that has value like no other, something that acts like a personal memory album which you can take home and reflect on.