Sensational Cinema Club: Lady Bird

Written by Eve Moran-McHugh

Despite lockdown easing, with cinemas mostly empty and the production on many films halted, many of us are looking to find films to watch at home. Therefore, I wanted to review some films that I think are not only great films, but important films for young women to watch.

I thought I’d begin with my favourite film, ‘Lady Bird’, the debut film from director Greta Gerwig.

Oftentimes, something that makes a film a favourite is very personal, and Lady Bird is no exception for me. This demonstrates what makes films so great, as they effect the viewer differently. Even so, I hope to demonstrate this wonderful film’s universal appeal.

‘Lady Bird’ follows a headstrong girl, named by her parents Christine and by herself Lady Bird, through her final year of high school in 2002, desperately pining after the day she can escape to the East Coast. I watched this film in the final year of secondary school, so you can understand my connection to this film. Despite this momentary relevance, every time I’ve rewatched it, I’ve loved it even more. Gerwig’s use of fast pace and witty dialogue can be overlooked on the first viewing, and it is on multiple viewing where you can really appreciate the subtle characterisation Gerwig suggests through a simple sentence.

Universally, ‘Lady Bird’ speaks to the rebellion of adolescents, and the desperate want to leave your ‘boring’ hometown behind. Lady Bird refuses to be acknowledged by her birth name and prefers to be called by her so-called ‘given name’ Lady Bird; as she tells her teacher “It was given to me, by me”. Everyone can relate to the feeling of outsmarting an adult who is unquestioning of the accepted rules. The film feels nostalgic to a life you didn’t even live, helped along by the early 2000’s technology and warm colour palette.

There is also specific reason why I knew I had to review this film on The Hive, to my fellow Girlguiding members, and that is its presentation of a female protagonist. Unlike a lot of films starring women, ‘Lady Bird’ is not a love story (not in the traditional sense at least). The story places more emphasis on her relationships with other women in her life. For example, we see her strained and yet loving relationship with her mother. The film places no blame on either party, objectively presenting the conflict as a necessary part of Ladybird’s (but also her mother’s) growth. Despite this it also manages to be one of the more emotional and tear jerking beats of the film.

“'Lady Bird' : I just, I wish that you liked me.

Marion McPherson: Of course I love you.

‘Lady Bird’ : But do you like me?

Marion McPherson: I want you to be the very best version of yourself that you can be.”

Another relationship that is highlighted in the film is her best friend Julie. Again, this relationship may not be perfect but it is clear throughout the film its importance over the Lady Bird’s male relationships.

The performances in this film are also amazing, with the protagonist being played by the endlessly talented Saoirse Ronan, who perfectly captures Lady Bird’s fiery spirit and strong personality. Ronan makes it so easy to become so emotionally connected to Lady Bird and her story. One of my favourite performances is that of Timothee Chalamet who plays Kyle, a laid back rich boy, who is an ardent believer in conspiracy theories. His character reminds us that this film is set in 2002, in the wake of 9/11, but also rings true to many people that are peddling outlandish theories today.

“Kyle Scheible : You don't have a cellphone?

'Lady Bird': No

Kyle Scheible : Good girl. The government didn't have to put tracking devices on us. We bought them and put them on ourselves.”

‘Lady Bird’ was directed by Greta Gerwig, who went on to direct the latest adaptation of Little Women with a star studded cast of Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep (to name a few). ‘Lady Bird’ brought a Best Director Oscar nomination for Gerwig, who is the fifth women ever to be nominated. And yes there have been 91 Oscars and only 5 women to be nominated as best director. This film demonstrates why we need more female voice both in front and behind the camera as it is apparent how Gerwig’s experiences as a women has lent to the films authenticity.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend Lady Bird, it is somehow both funny and authentic, and has the ability to make you cry. If I was able to, I would make it required viewing for everyone.

Please keep in mind that the rating for Lady Bird is 15. Be mindful of the rating and the ages of yourself and those you are with when choosing to watch.

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