Lady Bird is an awkward, yet triumphant glimpse into the latter stages of adolescence. It's a search for identity and purpose amidst the helplessness of youth, and with it, comes a healthy portion of heartbreak and adventure.
Saoirse Ronan stars as Christine or, as she periodically reminds you, the self-proclaimed "Lady Bird." Traversing through the jungle that is her last year of high school, we're allowed the opportunity to watch her fumble through some of the less glamorous parts of growing up. Ronan comes off as someone who never acted in the film, but rather lived her role. Her charisma and youthful bravado are some of her greatest strengths, and pain points. The amount of spontaneity and resistance she exudes are nothing short of precise, and faithful to that of youth. Those alongside her add a wealth of memorable interactions, and take great care in making sure that being one-dimensional didn't actually end up feeling that way. As much as I expected to loathe the relationship between Lady Bird and her mother, the quarrels between two equally independent and passionate characters made for the film's most compelling dynamic.
Describing the premise of Lady Bird shouldn't garner many second looks, as it's fairly straightforward in the plot points that it touches on. Where it separates itself from the pack is its focus on tone and atmosphere. The film takes great care in making sure that its most powerful scenes aren't the climactic turning points, but the reclusion and dissonance thereafter. Lady Bird doesn't shy away from letting audiences bask in the silence of failure, and the tumultuous whirlwind of emotions that eventually follow. Most victories end up small, but feel well-earned. Comedic portions feel natural and unobtrusive, and do well to break up any rumblings of teen angst—which, thankfully, there isn't an overabundance of to begin with.
My only non-minor critique of the film comes at the very end. The pseudo-revelation that takes place felt a bit unnatural, and contrasted heavily with the adequate build-up and attention to detail that the rest of the film displayed. Right before this occurs, there was a prolonged moment in which I thought the end credits were going to roll. Leaving it there would've fallen in line with how the characters had developed thus far, and presented audiences with room to safely interpret the events to follow. Instead, we're left with more of a solid, definitive ending to what had otherwise been nuanced and implied.
Despite this, Lady Bird as a whole is a delight to behold. Nearly everything from the scene transitions, to the music placement and cast ensemble integrates superbly to tell a story that is both small, yet poignant. Lady Bird ends up feeling like that awkward best friend you had growing up—the one that'd bring enjoyment out of even the most mundane of things. Perhaps something inside told you that they were destined to bigger and better things, but at the time, you were happy just relishing in the fact that the company you enjoyed was mutual.
My advice? Grab a friend, and go see this movie. Heck, grab a bowl of ice cream and eat your heart out. Lady Bird is a wealth of nostalgia and emotion, and sometimes—not necessarily all the time—you need that.
1-2: Horrendous, wouldn’t recommend watching even if free of charge.
3-4: Potentially has some good ideas, but overall still lackluster.
5-6: Average, a decently good time; go see it if it's free.
7-8: A solid recommendation, and well-rounded film; warrants a purchase after home release.
9: No glaring flaws; deserves to be watched multiple times.
10: Masterful, must-see; filmmaking at its finest.