This vicious, funny, teen coming of age movie has rightly scored five Oscar nods (including for lead actress Ronan and writer/director Gerwig, but most deservedly for Laurie Metcalf) as it brilliantly encapsulates what it means to be a 17-year-old girl at war with the world — and your mother.
Lady Bird (a beautiful, naturally gawky performance from Ronan) comes from the wrong end of small-town Sacramento. Bright and talented, but stifled by the strictures of her Catholic school and her domineering mother (Metcalf with an acid line in put downs that literally punch you in the face), she rages against where she finds herself in life and wants out. For her it doesn’t matter where ‘out’ actually is, just anywhere that Sacramento isn’t.
It’s not just her school and home life that she finds difficult, her burgeoning love (and sex) life is also throwing up all sorts of problems. After a first, seemingly perfect boyfriend turns out to be exactly the opposite, her next choice of beau (Call Me By Your Name’s Chalamet)proves equally unsuitable.
But Lady Bird’s biggest headache is her mother with whom she shares a hate/hate/love relationship so toxic, so vile and damaging you wonder that they haven’t killed each other. Their verbal spats are pure poison — excruciating to watch but also mesmerising. You simply will not be able to take your eyes from the screen as they tear into each other. And it is exactly this viciousness that makes the few tender moments they share together all the more poignant and touching.
Gerwig has written from the heart and directs with the surest of touches, and her cast repays her with performances that are brutally honest and unflinching. In any other year Metcalf would deservedly win the Best Supporting Actress award, but with so many stand out performances in this category, she may well slip through the net. Either way, she gets my vote.
Take a look at James Bartlett take on Lady Bird