Published Nov 03, 2017Greta Gerwig has made a career out of portraying likably offbeat characters stumbling through their 20s in films like Lola Versus, Frances Ha and Maggie's Plan. In Mistress America and 20th Century Women, she played the reluctant role model moving not-totally-gracefully towards onscreen maturation. In her latest project, Lady Bird, the transition is complete: Gerwig is entirely in control.
Her solo directorial debut tells the story of Sacramento high-school senior Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) — but that's Lady Bird to you. The self-given name is just one act of teenage rebellion; more than experimentation with hair dye, pot and sex, Lady Bird's biggest jab against her over-worked mom is secretly applying to east coast colleges, "where culture is."
That desire to escape fuels Lady Bird's final year at her all-girls Catholic school, and that desperation for something different is conveyed beautifully by Ronan. Feisty and flawed, she presents a heroine for the modern teenage girl whilst coping with the age-old tropes of first love, first heartbreak and the temptation to ditch your best friend for the rich, popular girls.
The relationship at the heart of the film, though, is the one between Lady Bird and her mother. Laurie Metcalf is perfect in the elder role, displaying both the critical eye mothers reserve for their teenage daughters and the hurt that only their teenage daughters can inflict.
Ultimately, the movie's message is a simple one: "Home is where the heart is." As clichéd as that may sound, Lady Bird is a heart-warming story about who we are and where we come from that's anything but.