I was worried for a while during the first two thirds of the critical darling Lady Bird. Everything about its story felt so cliche. High school girls are mean, the adorable boyfriend is gay, teen girl fights with mom, the brooding musician boy is a let down, teen sex is disappointing, suburban life is drab and uninspiring. This vanilla story was offset by this intensely realized relationship between Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf. So on the one had I was transported by watching them together but what I found them doing was so uninspiring.
But the film finds this magical means at the end of finding some spark of inspiration as it winds up. The whole point of the film, this average life piece, finds a beautiful transcendence in a lovely yet quite, small way. And it becomes a bit of a triumph.
Certainly the strongest part of the film is its lead actors who are pitch perfect throughout. There is no scenery chewing, no inauthenticity. Ronan and Metcalf are just a joy to watch, even when there doesn’t appear to be much going on for them. But that is part of the magic of writer/director Gerwig’s script, finding the magic in the mundane and predictable. Everything in Lady Bird felt average, felt expected, until it wasn’t, until it was lovely. The film ends in just the right sort of pitch perfect way that you forgive any tedium that lead to it cause it was all necessary to get where its going.
Truly accessible and crowdpleasing, Lady Bird is clever without being condescending. Its comforting and familiar without being boring. It is a charming film with two remarkable performances at its centre.
Starring: Saoire Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges, Lois Smith
Writer/Director: Greta Gerwig