Lady Bird Review: Family feud

Chad White
Loves: Oscar bait, indie movies, Greta Gerwig
Likes: Saoirse Ronan
Dislikes: Mean moms
Hates: Birds

She just has a big heart.

“Do you like me?”

“…Honey, I love you.”

“But do you like me?”

This was an exchange late into Lady Bird that perfectly captured the contemptuous relationship between Saoirse Ronan’s titular role and her mother, Marion, played with gusto by Laurie Metcalf. The second’s long beat from Metcalf in particular is gutwrenching. The two bicker and spit at each other for a majority of the film to no end. It’s heartbreaking to see two opposite forces push each other away. It’s even more tragic to see the two comes to no understanding in the end. Don’t worry. That last bit isn’t a spoiler of any sort. Truly, there is no real resolution but Lady Bird; the two characters learn to move past their differences to express their continued love of one another, no matter what decisions are made.

Ronan delights in her role as angsty Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson as she floats through an expensive Catholic high school trying to make her way out of Sacramento, California. Her senior year is the highlight as it cover’s the character’s discovery of the theater program, first love, first heartbreak, and first look at adulthood. Metcalf takes on the role of dotting parent and semi-antagonist as she fights back every one of Lady Bird’s decisions. Money is tight in the McPherson household and only grows tighter as the story unfolds.

Greta Gerwig’s portrayal of a creative teenager aspiring to be more than what both her town and mother want her to be is beyond exceptional. Painted with verbiage and conversations current to the year in which it takes place, the script is phenomenal. Gerwig’s unique take on the West is refreshing. Just because the city is in the Golden State doesn’t mean everything is golden. Coupled with the simple yet understated direction also from Gerwig, the script is able to depict exactly how arid and sometimes personable Sacramento could be. There is no city-wide illustration of hopelessness; that comes from the characters. Metcalf and Ronan expertly share the stage with their quarrels, seemingly to no end.

Other characters make their marks too. Beanie Feldstein is particularly memorable in her role as Lady Bird’s best friend. The two share a natural bond that surpasses “lead” and “funny best friend.” With each scene, their relationship is built and restructured or sometimes shaken completely. The movie smartly uses Lady Bird’s swansong year in school to the fullest. Significant moments are marked by the couple’s changing lives.

Should you watch Lady Bird?

While it’s not a movie for everyone, it’s insanely relatable. Bickering families should feel a bit of déjà vu with the two leads fighting one another. And award voters should feel the need to give Lady Bird as many trophies as possible.