Lady Bird

The intention behind the film was to make the equivalent of a Boyhood-style coming-of-age movie, but from a female perspective. Thankfully it doesn't stretch into three hours but is quite tightly edited. Scenes are like snapshots, with hard cuts moving you drastically forward in time before you can linger on how a moment develops or resolves. That makes for some discordant effects – Lady Bird and her mother are screaming at each other in one scene and then back on speaking terms the next. But I think that's to the film's purpose, which is to highlight the complexity of their relationship. This is encapsulated by an exchange towards the end of the film where Lady Bird gets her mother to admit that while she may love her daughter, she doesn't necessarily like her.

Although the film has an unvarnished style (Saoirse Ronan didn't want to cover up her acne with makeup, for example), there are still references to genre staples, although they are given a twist. There's the slightly less conventionally attractive best friend, but in one of the sweet moment in the film she becomes the prom date rather than the entitled, pretty dude in a band. And the traditional race for your love trope in an airport is not romantic but involves the mother realising that she wants to have a proper goodbye with her daughter, and it doesn't resolve as it normally would. These subversions show that real life isn't as neat and tidy as films make out, even if you sometimes need to use filmic short cuts to communicate meaning and emotion.

It's very good – and reminded me of stupid things I did when I was in school. It's a Bildungsroman in the style of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, where flight is necessary in order to develop as a creative and as a person, but that distance reinforces the impact of the place where you grew up. Joyce never stopped writing about Dublin even though all of his books were written in mainland Europe. Greta Gerwig seems to have the same conflicted feelings about Sacramento. In another pivotal scene, the ability to really observe her surroundings is reinterpreted as a kind of love. That applies as much to the mother-daughter relationship as it does to the city.

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