“Lady Bird always says that she lives in on the wrong side of the tracks, but I always thought that that was like a metaphor, but there are actual train tracks…”
The coming of age tale probably has a clearer lineage than any other pop culture trope. From Catcher in the Rye to Stand By Me to Boyhood, coming of age movies have always borrowed from each other but the best ones have something different to say for each new generation. Lady Bird just didn’t have a fresh enough take on the genre to merit all the praise it is currently receiving. What isn’t in doubt however is that Saoirse Ronan puts a in a great performance in a demanding role. Ronan has always been a versatile actress but Lady Bird is perhaps her most compelling and nuanced showing yet. It helps that Laurie Metcalf pushes her every step of the way with a similarly imposing turn.
Christine McPherson (Ronan) is a troubled teen who calls herself Lady Bird and is unsure of her place in the world. Think Juno but nowhere near as annoying. Her assertive and pushy mother (Metcalf) only exacerbates her daughters many issues. The problem here is that we have seen all of this before. As well as the films mentioned, Lady Bird has shades of The Spectacular Now, Dazed and Confused, heck, even Mean Girls. Lady Bird recalls pretty much every coming of age tale you can think of without being unique enough to break free of its influences. If I’m being honest, this film kind of feels like yet another movie that displays the current disconnect between critics and audiences. There has been a huge backlash against critics in recent years, some of it deserved, and the truth is, I just can’t see how anyone can say that Lady Bird was one of the best films of 2017.
Lady Bird is a love letter written in hormones and signed in angst. It is a love letter to the films that came before it, to Sacramento and to misfits. I hope that a lot of people connected to it more than I did but at the moment I feel that Greta Gerwig’s semi autobiographical film is pretty overrated. Worth watching though if only for Saoirse Ronan.