Lady Bird. Senior year. The struggle is real for mother and daughter alike.

maureen

I was lucky enough to see Ladybird, written and directed by Greta Gerwig at the Paramount during the Austin Film Festival a couple of weeks ago. If you get a chance to see this, go.

Coming of age is a universally awkward, confusing, embarrassing and harrowing experience for teens and for their parents. Sometimes characters in stories that everybody has experienced in one way or another get lost in the meta-ness of the story. Not here. This is Christine’s and Marion’s story. Gerwig, Ronan, and Metcalf speak them into being with such true voices that I felt like an aunt standing on the sidelines watching a family drama unfold. I know them. I love them. I’m laughing at them and with them. These are unique people and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to address the angst and agony or the hopes and dreams floating around a girl’s senior year.

High school senior Christine (Saoirse Ronan) is trying to figure out who she is, so much so that she changes her name to Lady Bird. She is determined to escape the mundane town she’s lived in all her life. Her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) is trying really hard to help with practical, realistic advice but also fighting to retain a little protective control over her daughter for just a little bit longer. Marion and husband and father Larry (Tracy Letts) are also facing financial pressures that play into Christine’s college decision. Letting go is harder for Marion than for Larry.  Surrounded by drama Larry just wants to support the two women he loves and make the fighting stop so he can read.

The writing is so funny, but continuously genuine and believable. The pace is quick in the first half of the film, the way a senior year rushes by. The second half, though still funny, takes some serious turns and slows down a bit, letting us experience the growing tensions and the confusing second-guessing that happens as graduation approaches.

I’m happy to see Lady Bird is doing so well in the “specialty” or “art” house theaters. The script, the acting, and the directing are ridiculously great. I really loved it. This is Gerwig’s first time directing. At the interview after the movie she is just as real and approachable as her characters. I hope she tells lots more stories. And, at some point I hope Gerwig lets us revisit this family. I seriously need to hang out with the Macphersons again.


Comments are closed.