FILM NOTES: LADY BIRD

I did not know what to expect from filmmaker Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. I missed multiple screening opportunitiesto see the film. I deliberately skipped reading the reviews since I wanted to discover for myself what the film was about. Finally, a few days ago I watched the film and came away thinking what a beautiful love story on Sacramento, the capital of California. More importantly, the film captured those special years in all our lives when we transition from high school to college. Like many teenagers most of us are eager to become adults and do grown-up things and not listen to the continuous stream of concern and advice from our parents. All we want to do is break free and go to a new place and experience new things, new people and new passions. We are so eager to spread our wings since we think we are stuck in a cage. Little do we realize that the grown-up journey is fraught with intense highs and lows. It is only years later when we look back to those memories do we realize our parents were looking out for us and those high school days were some of the best in our lives. That in essence is the story of Lady Bird for me.

Lady Bird is definitely inspired by Gerwig’s story of growing up in Sacramento. Gerwig does a brilliant job of distilling that high school experience with such great sensitivity and fun. And then there is that Gerwig trademark – a bit of quirkiness. The story revolves around Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), whose dream is to leave Sacramento and study in an East Coast college. Her mother’s (Laurie Metcalfe) preference is that she study in California since they cannot afford the tuition for an out-of-state school. Her father (Tracy Letts) secretly supports “Lady Bird’s” wish. While in high school “Lady Bird” discovers her love for Danny O’Neill (Lucas Hedges) and her first lover (Timothe Hal Chalamet). After a series of rejections, Lady Bird gets into a college in New York. She is over the moon that she can finally leave Sacramento and experience life on her terms. Her mother, on the other hand, is distraught and refuses to talk to her. And, it is in New York Lady Bird discovers that all-too-familiar feeling of homesickness and misses her family and friends. Like many of us “Lady Bird” discovers that her heart is really in the town that she grew up, and that those years were indeed special.

By stripping the story to its essence I have not done justice to the filmmaker, actors, director of photography, editors and others. Gerwig, who wrote and directed the film had a clear idea of what she wanted to capture in her debut film as a director. She had me hooked right from the first frame as Lady Bird and her mother are driving back home to Sacramento and she declares she hates California. And I thought why in heaven’s name does she hate California? Now this is going to be interesting to find out I thought.

Ronan is fantastic as Lady Bird, and Metcalfe’s portrayal of an over-worked and anxious mother is brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the film.

Lady Bird released in November 2017 in the US.

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