After appearing in a couple of dozen films, as well as co-writing a few, Greta Gerwig has decided to take the plunge getting behind the camera for her directorial debut with Lady Bird, at the ripe old age of 34. And if that wasn’t pressure enough, she also wrote it too.
But has she bitten off more than she can chew with this semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama?
Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is a young teen who certainly exudes a confident attitude to the world; so much so that she insists that everyone calls her Lady Bird, including her family.
She’s nearly reached the end of high school, and is looking forward to getting out of her home of Sacremento, and hopefully heading west to a liberal college, where she can finally be accepted and be herself. It may be more of a pipe dream however, as she’s hardly the most academic of students, and her grades don’t do her aspirations justice.
Before then, there are a few more hurdles to overcome, like developing relationships with boys, prom, and the most difficult of all, getting on with her mom (Laurie Metcalf). It doesn’t help that she keeps, well most things, from her, including her plans to leave asap.
It’s impressive that a small indie flick such as this, has been garnered with such Oscar attention, particularly when you take into consideration that it really isn’t very good.
First of all, there’s Saoirse Ronan. Part of the problem is that Ronan has been acting for so many years, that it feels like she should be in her early thirties. The truth is however, that she’s only 23. That said, she just feels too old to be playing a senior at high school. She looks at times like Tom Hanks in Big, but being more awkward and less adorable. She’s an incredibly talented actress, but she just doesn’t seem to get to grips with the role.
And then there’s the character herself. Unfortunately for the film, she’s the least interesting and enjoyable of all the youngsters on screen. She is too self absorbed and ordinary to care about. Her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) for instance, is far more appealing, and it would have been far more entertaining to follow her story instead.
So, with the main protagonist being so pointless, what’s left? Well, not much. The characters are all two dimensional, with a script that is so devoid of any real emotion, it ends up being just a dry conveyor belt of mediocrity. Even the tension between the mother and daughter that’s supposed to be so palpable is far from it. Voices don’t get raised and there whole relationship is devoid of passion.
For this film to have worked, it needed someone like Lena Dunham to take it by the scruff of the neck and inject some much needed personality into proceedings. And certainly her style of humour wouldn’t have gone a miss. Actually any kind of humour would have made it far more palatable.
However Gerwig is no Dunham, and the fact that it’s up for five Oscars, including best screenplay and best director, just feels as if the academy are succumbing to the current social climate in a vain attempt to be seen as supportive. Next time they should just buy a badge.
Lady Bird is an indie film that has managed to supersede all expectations, by coming along at the right time. It’s just disappointing that it doesn’t deserve the praise in the slightest.