By: Mark Farmer, Entertainment Writer
Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird released in theaters this past month, starring Saoirse Ronan in the film’s titular role. A senior in high school, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson struggles in coming to terms with her changing life and personality as she prepares to graduate from high school and move on to college.
Gerwig’s latest film has been gaining major traction, as reviews have begun showering the movie with praise. Lady Bird has not only earned a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, but has also beat 1999’s Toy Story 2 for being the site’s most-reviewed film sitting at a perfect score; Out of 185 aggregated film scores, every single one of them positively reviewed Lady Bird. This is most impressive, given that it’s Gerwig’s first solo directing and writing effort. In her ten-year-tenure within Hollywood, Gerwig has co-written and co-directed a number of critically acclaimed films, but certainly nothing towards Lady Bird’s veracity. Is the flick worthy of such unadulterated praise?
In many ways, yes- but it’s no perfect film. Ronan’s performance as Lady Bird really nails the coming-of-age teenager looking to find herself and coming to terms with who she is. The way she acts and dresses seems quintessentially teenaged, and many of the film’s moments allow Saoirse Ronan to bring out the best parts of the character’s many sides. This is not only because of Ronan’s acting, but Gerwig’s excellent writing as well.
Many of Gerwig’s scenes throughout the film really do capture what it’s like to be a teenager, and are full of laugh-out-loud moments that are incredibly memorable. But many other aspects of the film are a bit harder to grasp, with Lady Bird following a number of the same clichés that other indie coming-of-age flicks abuse all too often. Many sequences seem far too obvious in their execution, and there’s really no question about how they’ll be resolved. These didn’t ruin the movie for me in any capacity, but it definitely took away from many of the film’s best moments.
The other problem I tend to have with these indie coming-of-age films is that I simply find a lot of them wholly unrelatable. A lot of these films are truly great and tell an excellent story, but they just don’t resonate with me on a personal level like they seem to for many other audiences. It’s hard for me to gauge the success of a film like Lady Bird in capturing the feel and aesthetic of a specific time in life when I, an outlier, don’t really seem to pick up on a lot of the movie’s situations and scenarios.
Because of these factors, I never really felt much of a connection to Lady Bird. I enjoyed the story, its writing, acting, and fantastic editing. But I didn’t walk away from the film thinking, “that was just like me!” To me, that keeps it from being anything great- That lack of resonation makes the film more forgettable, in my eyes. A fine film, for sure, but nothing more than enjoyable.
Don’t get caught up in the hype for Lady Bird and I’m sure viewers are bound to be impressed. While I wasn’t blown away by the film, I’m sure many audiences with varying backgrounds will have find themselves connecting to more scenes than others. Personally, though, I found it to be full of character and emotional pinpoints, even with its faults.