Fly On Back Home
The coming of age story for individuals in high school has been quite mundane and tend to follow the typical tropes of the genre. Romantic interests, cliche drama, and all too neat resolutions follow these movies leading them to be cheesy and uninteresting. Even those stories about a female primarily feature their story revolving around a boy and their irrevocable love for them. Considering all of these factors, Lady Bird feels like a breath of fresh air to the genre in that it subverts all of these tropes to provide a more realistic look at the coming of age story. It is a heartfelt story that focuses on the mother-daughter dynamic and through fantastic performances is able to come out on top as highly original and a joy to watch.
Christine McPherson who prefers to be called “Lady Bird” is a senior at a Catholic high school anticipating the opportunity to move out East for college instead of staying in her small town in California. She seeks to break free from the confines placed around her particularly her mother Marion whose ernest attempts to reach out to Lady Bird are met with antagonism. As Lady Bird struggles between the line of love and rebellion, she experiences things in new light to help shape her path.
Saoirse Ronan gives a great performance as Lady Bird. She captures the sentimentality of being in high school while also being whimsical at the things she is discovering. Lady Bird is a character going through a multitude of emotions, particularly balancing the line of anger and compassion. Everything from a simple look to a heavy conversation, Ronan captures with such pure emotion and palpability to make the movie feel so natural. We constantly want to know more about her internal struggle, and the way the things that aren’t said are conveyed speaks to Ronan’s performance more highly.
As I said earlier, most coming of age stories featuring a woman deal with romantic relationships with a boy. While Lady Bird does encounter romance in the story, it is never the centerpiece or the moral lesson she needs to learn. It is a much smaller yet significant subplot that challenges her in unexpected ways. At its core, Lady Bird is the story of mother and daughter and the dichotomy that resides.
Laurie Metcalf as Lady Bird’s mother Marion exemplifies this fascinating relationship to great effect. She is in a constant struggle of trying to make her daughter understand the situation she is in, while also conveying that she clearly loves the woman she is becoming. To see the divisive nature just in a single facial expression is brilliant acting and I commend Metcalf for capturing the true burgeoning essence of being a mother.
The decisions Lady Bird makes all hinge on the aforementioned line that she is balancing. Like most high schoolers, there is the personality we want to be known for and the one we truly are. Seeing individuals in her classroom appearing all put together and being ambitious leads to insecurities seeping through, forcing her to make hasty decisions to be liked. This puts her at odds with family and friends as she is compassionate person at her core, but acts rash to put on a persona to the world. Seeing this, proves to be compelling and extremely investing to the point where I did not want the movie to end.
Director Greta Gerwig manages to capture the moments in Lady Bird’s life with such genuinity and realism. Each conversation feels organic and we usually pop in the middle of conversations which adds to the palpability of the moment. With that, the dialogue is investing and allows the viewer to become connected to the characters on screen more easily. Comprising a script of this calibur that feels so focused and tight is a hallmark of what makes films like Lady Bird get noticed by the Academy Awards.
Lady Bird is an amazing film that puts an interesting perspective on the coming of age story. Rather than focusing on the romantic relationships in Lady Bird’s life, it hones in on the heartbreaking yet earnest connection between mother and daughter among other aspects. The dialogue is compelling to the point where I felt like I was eavesdropping on actual conversations. The movie is short clocking in at an hour and a half but I could have watched another two hours as the characters are just that investing. I recommend this dramedy as it will be quite the talk when the Oscar nominations release.
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