✯’s review published on Letterboxd:
Quick disclaimer: This review is mostly rambling, so I doubt anyone is going to want to read past the first paragraph, but I just don’t feel like I can be clinical and detatched about a film like this, because it’s rooted itself firmly into my heart. But I’m extremely glad I watched it. There’s a line midway through where Sister Mary Joan says to Christine: “you write about Sacramento so affectionately, and with such care.” That’s how Greta Gerwig handles this story, and the direction of it. Lady Bird is so, so tender, and it’s overflowing with the kind of sensitive and nuanced emotion that’s really rare to see.
Future dialogue layered over scenes of action and movement grounds the film (Christine and Danny dancing in the park is my favourite example of this, but it’s peppered successfully throughout without coming off as repetitive or dull) and the soundtrack was somehow comforting. I also thought that the sound design was lovely, which is a tiny thing to comment on but it added to my experience of the film. Whether it was the chirp of crickets during a calm night, songs crackling through a car radio or muffled laughter from another room: it all added to the naturalistic energy of the film in different and interesting ways, tipping the tone of scenes or making them feel more full of life, more lived in. I also enjoyed the editing: some jumps and skips to make things go quicker bounced off the film’s own comedic timing. Big events felt like moments, it kept the pacing upbeat and I don’t think any part of the film dragged on too much or glossed over anything major. The comedy in this film hits the mark spectacularly most of the time and I found myself laughing out loud at some points. Kyle and Christine’s brief relationship was a highlight here, I’m still thinking about the lines, “I haven’t lied in two years,” and “different things can be sad, it’s not all war!”
Lady Bird feels intimately personal. It’s an ode to adolescence. I really feel like there’s something for everyone in this, whether it’s Christine giving herself a “given name”, her interactions with friends and family, parsing out where you’re placed in society based on class or where you can climb to based on merit. The question: “what if this is the best version of me?”
I’m going to derail for a minute to talk flippantly: I felt like the film was speaking to me personally, and that’s an experience I wish I could pass on to everyone, because we all deserve to be seen, really seen by the media we choose to watch. If that makes any sense. It’s the sort of film I watched at completely the right time in my life: right in the throes of university applications, the struggle between wanting to be as far away from my hometown as possible and loving it with all my heart. Like, I’m embarrassed that I used to be a Kyle about hand rolled cigarettes. (Now I just accept carton cancer like everyone else I know who smokes. It’s quicker than rolling.) And the “just married to Jesus” joke! I think it’s the Catholic school experience, and that’s such a specific thing to say, but a while ago at my school someone smudged the words “I <3 JESUS” into the dirt on the side of a religion teacher’s car and she had a genuine laugh about it with my A-Level class. The world is really small actually, and I’m starting to realise that things might be a lot more universal than they seem. That makes me happy.
Anyway, it’s wonderful to watch Saoirse Ronan act. There’s a level of emotional transparency there that makes the things she does so moving and genuine. She’s soft spoken and boisterous and a little bit selfish all at the same time, and her performance is perfectly suited to the role: it’s complex and layered, just like Christine is. The script is effortlessly witty, charmingly sentimental and has a flare of understanding that runs deep throughout. It dipped into a few people’s lives and created character arcs and intersecting storylines that felt meaningful no matter how small: Danny’s sexuality, Kyle’s dad, mirroring Marion and Christine’s personalities, Larry’s depression and unfailing willingness to make others happy. I could probably write a thesis about every character in this film, and I know the more times I watch it the more there will be to pick up on.
Weridly I feel like I need to tell all of my friends and family how much I love them now. Lady Bird was such a special film, one that I know I’ll hold irrationally close to my heart from now on. I deeply hope that Greta Gerwig writes and directs a thousand more films in the future. I wish I could thank her for this.