It’s quite a familiar trajectory in cinema but one of my favourite moments in Lady Bird is when Christine’s (Saoirse Ronan) prom-date Kyle (Timothée Chalamet) suggests that they ditch the event once they’re all up for it. She signals him to drop her off at her estranged friend Julie’s (Beanie Feldstein) place. It’s a tender reunion and the duo gets things done just the way they want. Yes, been-there-seen-that is something that surrounds the film big time. And it could possibly take you on a trip back to your tiny, listless life. Now that’s what makes Greta Gervik’s Lady Bird a precious gem.
Running for a brisk 90 minutes, the film boasts of a fast narrative, alright. Precisely, it gets everyone’s s***t together in breakneck time. The film doesn’t let you wait in order to pick up cues or expects you to connect dots between sequences to get its act together. Predictably owing to her Indie roots, Gervik doesn’t seem to waste resources and time.
The film is divided into tiny, seamless segments each of which lets the lead character assimilate one thing or two. She grows or rather evolves with each passing day and the film is honest enough to be raw about the characters and their weaknesses. You see a spirited young boy comes out of the closet and also bravely crying his heart out to his ex-girlfriend. There’s a mother who keeps herself as busy as a quarry worker just so that the house runs smoothly. It is especially tear-jerking when the family members refuse to complain about their shallow pockets. There’s a lot of concern, happiness, and love that’s often unacknowledged which, thereof, is heartbreaking in multiple ways.
Greta Gervik’s pen is all about the details. Each frame looks nurtured as opposed to being just shot. Sacramento comes beautifully alive in those occasional montages. You contain its smaller breadth to yourself while also appreciating its dramatic quality as a backdrop. The dialogues form one of the film’s mainstays and is mercifully un-cinematic. They are of the variety that makes us sigh with a ‘duh’ face feeling, “Hey! I could have uttered them at some point in my life but I didn’t.”
Sample the scene in which she loses temper upon realizing that her boyfriend isn’t a virgin:
Kyle: “You are gonna have so much unspecial sex in your life.”
Lady Bird: “I was on top. Who the fuck is on top their first time?”
Her expectations, his nonchalance and her rebellion in return – all of it is representative of teenagers on the verge of blooming into adults.
Another is a brief moment when she finds her mother not appreciative enough. She tells her mom, “I wish that you liked me”. Her mother, standing outside her trial room, adds that she loves her. Lady Bird is quick to counterquestion, “But, do you like me?”
The kind of apprehensions that many of us must have bred or even uttered in the days of transition.
Lady Bird, pleasantly, ends before you realize it. The film is funny, impulsive, agitating, and has zero qualms in showing off its vulnerable sides. Literally, you shed your share tears – of mixed emotions – as the protagonist transitions to Christine. Needless to add, what a fantastic debut feature is this for Greta Gervik. Quite unseen and original, at least where Hollywood benchmarks are concerned.