There’s a beautiful moment at the beginning of Lady Bird where if you blink you’ll miss it. If you do it doesn’t matter, given Greta Gerwig’s latest bears too many to count.
Christine, an imminent Sacramento high school graduate with the self-ascribed eponymous moniker (Brooklyn’s Saoirse Ronan), listening to the final passage of The Grapes of Wrath with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) may seem incidental or wholly inconsequential though like all else that transpires it is anything but. Mirroring the film’s boundless sense of aspiration and perseverance, Lady Bird, in the best traditions of coming of age dramas, compounds a vision of the vast, inviting experiences seemingly and so barely out of reach for here Ronan’s offbeat heroine.
Brimming with utterly sincere, genuinely moving moments, everything from Ronan’s reactions to a crush (Lucas Hedges) to the bitterest of interactions with her mother have the supreme qualities of being both undeniably realistic and, while dramatically involving, devoid of the exaggerative facets that duly pervade even faithful recreations of life. Timothee Chalamet, together with Hedges and Ronan burgeoning performers already at a height in their careers, thrillingly expound on characters engaging for their being not only naturalistic but instantly recognisable, relatable fixtures who are conversely indiscernible and compellingly so.
Not unlike Chalamet’s recent triumph Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird will speak to a particular audience who it intendedly reflects. The former, a treatise on the travails of young, gay men and to a lesser but not insignificant extent Jewish identity, is poles apart but not dissimilar in great respects from Gerwig’s portrait of a young Catholic woman and her experiences at a religious school. The film’s treatment of this subject matter while outwardly flippant at times shrewdly masks, at least until it’s later stages, a considered and complex view of the role of religion in Lady Bird’s especial life and too the intrinsic though negotiable role it plays from her evolving perspective.
The tale is a quickly-paced, fleeting evocation of high school life that will better mirror many viewers’ own memories of their formative years than any nostalgia induced haze. Among its best moments is the review of some correspondence by Lady Bird from her mother, that would not be what it is but for Metcalf’s stellar performance. It is a touching instance quite possibly reflective of what was here an extensive and ultimately fulfilling creative process by Gerwig, the Writer and Director of what is avowedly in some respects autobiographical.
A treat worth savouring, the accomplishment that is Lady Bird bodes well for what will no doubt be noteworthy careers for all involved.
Lady Bird is in cinemas from February 15