I felt obliged to write this because it’s been a long time since a film had such a lasting effect on me, and as far as happy accidents go – this one’s high up there.
I had been meaning to go see a film at The Storyhouse since it’s opening. Every time I’d go to book, they seemed to be playing some old classic, and as much as I knew I’d enjoy it when I got there, I couldn’t quite bring myself to fork out a tenner to watch summin like ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’
I’d intended to see The Shape of Water, cause lets face it, who doesn’t wanna watch 90 minutes of 1960’s, aquarium, interspecies, sci-fi, romance? But such is life, we’d missed the last screening, so settled on Lady Bird instead.
Lady Bird who?
Set in 2003, in Sacramento – East Coast California, Saoirse Ronan plays difficult teenager Christine who insists that everyone calls her Lady Bird – a name she gave to herself. The film is based around her challenging final year at a catholic high school, and her turbulent relationship with her mother – who just wants her to live a simple suburban life – whilst she wants so much more.
So, why is it so good?
The film begins with Lady Bird and her mother driving home from a university visit, both tearful, having just finished and audiobook of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes in The Wrath. Their personalities conflict and Lady Bird throws herself out of the moving car in an act of defiance. The next scene pans in on Lady Bird’s arm cast with ‘f*** off mum’ etched onto it.
Lady Bird reminded me so much of younger me. Coasting about life with a kind of brattish brilliance, smearing pink hair dye on the white bathroom walls and giving my parents high blood pressure. It’s this that makes it so relatable.
On paper it sounds like any other coming of age comedy, in reality it’s subtle genius. Greta Grewig has written a screenplay where every line feels valid and the on screen result is a touching and original portrait of what growing up really feels like.
I had this pre conceived idea that it was going to be a saccharine, indie cliché, and definitely not funny. At times it was so lol that I had to hold in my outbursts, because I thought I might be putting off the dude I was sharing a communal armrest with.
Iconic coming of age films and cult soundtracks go hand in hand, so it was inevitable that this film would feature some sort of nostalgic anthem. The anthem of choice? Dave Mathew’s Band’s late 90’s classic ‘Crash into You.’ There’s a scene when the song starts playing on car radios at two different emotional crossroads and it’s amazing. Critics laid into DMB hard after their 1998 Grammy’s performance because they are so cheesy and shit – but it’s this that makes them the perfect band to accompany this sort of narrative.
Kudos to Jon Brion too – whose soundtrack manages to capture all the emotions that go alongside being a 17 year old girl, without actually having ever been one.
I watched this film when it had been cold and dark for approx. 4374387483643 days and I was desperately in need of some innocent escapism as a kind of winter tonic.
It reminded me of my family, of my oldest friends, of sticking stuff on my bedroom walls. It made me wanna jump on the next Arriva train across the border and give my mum a hug. This film REALLY got to me and if you’re anything like me, this film will give you hope and joy and give you the same kind of feeling that a sunny Friday morning in June does.