Movie: Lady Bird

There are some movies you don’t think you’re going to enjoy but feel compelled to see – and then are pleasantly surprised. For me, Lady Bird is the perfect example of this.

Saoirse Ronan stars in Lady Bird. Photo credit: Merrick Morton

Saoirse Ronan stars in Lady Bird. Photo credit: Merrick Morton*

I couldn’t really see the appeal of watching a movie about a teenage girl growing up in Sacramento in the early 2000s.  But given the movie was playing to such critical and audience acclaim, I felt I had to see it. And the critics are correct – Lady Bird is an extremely entertaining movie.

Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf. Photo credit: Merie Wallace

Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf. Photo credit: Merie Wallace *

Lady Bird is the story of Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), a very intelligent but not academically brilliant 17-year-old growing up in a poor area of Sacramento.  She longs to escape or `fly away’, hence her decision to name herself “Lady Bird”  – a name she wants everyone to use, much to the chagrin of her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf) .

She attends a Catholic school in a wealthier area of Sacramento and although not a total outcast, she’s not particularly popular. She is desperate to leave Sacramento to study in New York, however as her mother frequently points out, given her marks and the family’s financial situation, it’s not going to happen.

Tracy Letts and Laurie Metcalf Photo credit: Merie Wallace

Tracy Letts and Laurie Metcalf. Photo credit: Merie Wallace *

Her father, Terry (Tracy Letts), is unemployed and depressed. Marion works two shifts at a local hospital to ensure there’s food on the table for the family ,that also includes her adopted unemployed son, Miguel (Jordan Rodrigues) and his girlfriend Shelly (Marielle Scott).

Lady Bird constantly fights with her extremely strong willed mother over her future and just about everything else, yet deep underneath, they do seem to love each other.  She has a far more loving and less complicated relationship with her father.

As well as following Lady Bird’s relationship with her family, the film also spotlights all the `important issues’ many 17-year-old girls experience, including their future after school, world affairs, friends and most importantly, boys!

Saoirse Ronan and Lucas Hedges. Photo credit: Merie Wallace,

Saoirse Ronan and Lucas Hedges. Photo credit: Merie Wallace *

Lady Bird relentlessly pursues and wins over the cute boy in her theatre class, Danny (Lucas Hedges). When that doesn’t work out, she falls for self-important rock musician, Kyle (Timothée Chalamet).

When the chance arises to join the in-crowd, she drops her dorky best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) for the wealthy and popular Jenna (Odeya Rush).

While such issues have been addressed in many coming-of-age comic dramas, Lady Bird is different in that there are no really unpleasant people. There’s no bullying and while Lady Bird does at different times make some rather embarrassing and wrong decisions, she admits these and makes the right decisions.

Saoirse Ronan and Beanie Feldstein. Photo credit: Merie Wallace

Saoirse Ronan and Beanie Feldstein. Photo credit: Merie Wallace*

It’s easy to understand why Lady Bird has won so many awards and has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. It would be a worthy winner as would Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf  who have been nominated in best actress and best supporting actress categories. Both give excellent, believable performances.  But really, there isn’t a weak link in Lady Bird.

It’s the brilliant acting together with the story line – which is often funny, sometimes sad and occasionally moving – that makes Lady Bird so entertaining. Creator Greta Gerwig certainly deserves her Oscar nominations for best original screenplay and best director.

Lady Bird officially opens on February 15 although several cinemas are already screening previews.

*Photos courtesy A24

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