Lady Bird ★★★★★

“Don’t you think that maybe they’re the same thing? Love and attention?”

Lady Bird is a particularly indescribable moment in cinema. It’s a joyous hour and a half that I wished could go on for another decade. I can only think to relate it to sentiments: unlocking your door after a long day, putting on the new sweater you just bought, falling asleep to a fantasy world only you know. Greta Gerwig is as down to earth, serene and perceptive as you’d imagine. She creates a world that we’ve all lived in: every character is familiar (and thoroughly committed to their stereotypical narratives, which is what sells them), every joke sticks it’s landing, and every word feels genuinely experienced.

I find this film to be perfect, for a plethora of reasons that I can’t exactly name, and for a handful that I can. It’s that essence of “this makes me so irrationally happy but I don’t know why” that makes Lady Bird a standout in my heart.

Maybe by explaining what about it makes it so magical, I’ll come to understand my fondness for it. There’s a lack of pretension, a lack of judgement and snootiness that grounds this film. Coming of age tales are frequently riddled with black and white binaries that indicate who you should root for, who you should hate, etc. Lady Bird simply aims to narrate. It doesn’t infer or insinuate; it is purely observant and charming in nature. We don’t feel coerced into believability, we just believe in Lady Bird and all of her antics.

Gerwig’s affinity for Sacramento is also a compelling component of her debut film. Though Lady Bird spends most of the film convincing everyone that she hates Sacramento, one of her teachers mentions that she writes about it with an obvious tenderness. Lady Bird is an artist; she’s a creative soul who insists that the only place she can flourish is in New York City. The truth is that wherever she lands, Lady Bird will challenge the norm and think outside the box. Saoirse Ronan captures her zany, expressive personality beautifully. As hard-edged and closed-off as she tries to come across, there’s an innate openness to her attitude that’s fantastic to watch.

With what I’ve written so far, I still don’t feel like I’m articulating the sincerity and authenticity of Lady Bird. It’s visual soul food: colourful and grainy and so distinctly 2002. Intermittently, it becomes emotionally heavy, however it drips with humour and charm that can only come from a teenage girl’s state of mind. Gerwig believes in her script; she sprinkles it with affection and softness, she cares about it deeply. What’s most magical is my vision of Gerwig holding this script close to her heart, clutching it between tense arms, protecting it gravely. Her choice to share this story with us feels gutsy because of its candid transparency. Lady Bird is a piece of her that holds the power to become pieces of all of us, should we choose to embrace it.

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