Lady Bird above all else is proof that sometimes the best stories are told on a minimalist scale. Now you may be asking – what the heck do I mean by saying that?
Well, it is my hot take that Lady Bird has resonated with viewers because it is such an intimate, personal story. It may not be a story that you can relate to on all levels, but it is a story told in a manner which lets you in and connect with what is portrayed on screen. Of course this is down to the talents in front of and behind the camera.
Full disclosure – I have a bit of a soft spot for the film’s writer/director Greta Gerwig. In her directorial debut, Gerwig acquits herself quite well in composing a love song with multiple notes, all centered around the tumult of high school senior Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) and her somewhat predictably fraught relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf). She is a teenager after all …
Fortunately for us, that only touches the surface. Where other coming of age stories might have been satisfied with the above being a primary driver for the narrative, Lady Bird weaves in the title character’s strong desire to break away from her pedestrian and humdrum existence in her hometown of Sacramento, California. She is also dealing with the “angst” which comes from her family’s strained economic situation and the impact this has on her social life.
And of course, Lady Bird would not be a proper coming of age story without the drama and awkwardness that comes with young romantic relationships. Gerwig and company portray this aspect with a refreshing honesty and balance – it is neither the most nor least important thing in Lady Bird’s life.
Altogether all of these elements paint a whole picture of Lady Bird’s world and what inspires and informs it.
By the end of the story, we are left with a bit of a quickly-paced montage which bring us to a lovely conclusion. So that by the time the credits rolled, you are sat there with the realization that you have been a party to a lovely experience.
Lady Bird is a love letter, authored by an auteur looking back and taking the audience on this journey with her as she recalls those transitional moments of her life. This is thankfully not with a saccharine nostalgia, but rather with a clear eyed, realistic recollection of events that does not dismiss or reject any sentimentality.
*Reference to the song of the same title by Adele