What to watch in isolation: ‘Lady Bird’ by Greta Gerwig

Saoirse Ronan as Lady Bird, the eponymous main character

TheCity.ie’s resident film guru Ruadhán Jones gives his movie recommendation for some quality quarantine entertainment.

The darling of the mumblecore Indie genre, Greta Gerwig’s first foray into direction was not one I anticipated enjoying – but here we are! With coming-of-age dramas being two-a-penny, it’s a hard task to keep them novel. But whereas many are navel-gazing, wish-fulfilment, Lady Bird is equal parts amusing, bracing, and surprisingly moving.

It is a pleasure to watch a film explore a mother-daughter relationship with such depth and sympathy. Whereas most teen films separate the teenage and adult worlds – as though they belong to two different species – Gerwig interweaves their shared dramas. Much of the film is about the eponymous lead, Ladybird (Saoirse Ronan), coming to understand her mother’s love.

Ladybird is a high schooler in her last year, facing the uncertainty that comes with moving on to college. Self-conscious and restless, her rebellious spirit often leads her astray. But with outlets for her creativity, such as the school drama, she is able express herself more productively. The film touches on many of the tropes you would expect – like first kisses and teenage angst – but each time with a twist that is unexpected, but fulfilling.

Finally, there are few things more cinematic that a covert love-letter to a particular place. Every artist needs their community. For Woody Allen it’s Manhattan, with Pedro Almodóvar it’s Madrid, for Greta Gerwig it’s Sacramento.

Sitting on my couch in dreary Ireland, I find it hard to believe that anybody could hate such a sunny, warm city with all that lovely architecture and natural scenery. But the eponymous Ladybird does, or at least thinks she does. Coming to terms with her unrecognised appreciation for her home is just another of the themes that Gerwig subtly interweaves.

Now available on Netflix, this is a definite must-see.

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