Mothers and Daughters: Lady Bird is an intergenerational date night film

“I’m so sorry I was horrible”.

SaoIrse Ronan isn’t apologising for herself, but reiterating the phrase she thinks is most likely to be uttered by daughters to their mothers after seeing Lady Bird.  The coming-of-age comedy drama is one of the most talked about this awards season - partly because its writer-director Greta Gerwig has been nominated for a directing Oscar, although she got snubbed by the Globes and the BAFTAS on the way there. There's been no grey areas about  Saoirse's vibrantly colourful performance as 'Lady Bird' (real name Christine) though - she's hailed as another Kate Winslet  for the amount of accolades she's already collected in her early 20s.

The film sees the seemingly precocious 18 year-old wanting to take flight to college, if only to annoy her sometimes-harsh but always-fair mother, beautifully under-played by Laurie Metcalf (TV Roseanne’s sister Jackie).

Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf in 'Lady Bird': Credit: Universal Pictures

Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf in 'Lady Bird': Credit: Universal Pictures

“A lot of mothers and daughters are going to see this together,” adds Saoirse; it’s an unusual intergenerational date night movie that’s caught on ever since Lady Bird was released in the US last year.

Despite its independent credentials, it should appeal to the mainstream. Lady Bird may be quirky, but it’s essentially about a family that is a lot more relatable than many of the film families we watch on a regular basis. It’s full of little things to notice that add to the richness of the piece, such as when the whole family is in the car, it’s Lady Bird’s mother who is driving, while her father is the one in the passenger seat.

“Greta just gets it,” shrugs Saoirse, with a nonchalance befitting someone starring in a movie with three BAFTA and five Oscar nominations. The fact Lady Bird is only an old-fashioned 90 minutes long is surely  testament to Gerwig's precise writing too.

Greta Gerwig directing Lady Bird. Photo credit: Universal Pictures  

Greta Gerwig directing Lady Bird. Photo credit: Universal Pictures

 

"There’s a dash of Mean Girls, the feel of Pretty in Pink, and you could even go as far as to whisper Dawson’s Creek." 

Lady Bird's family has struggled with money, but the parents have always tried to do the best thing for their adult kids, who don’t always see it that way. There’s drugs, sex, and a turn of this century’s take on rock and roll (hey Alanis and Dave Matthews). Quite frankly, it’s wonderful, smart and funny, and while the marketing plan for Lady Bird may position it a world (or gender) away from the Avengers, you could argue it shares much of the sharp wit that millions have enjoyed between Cap and Iron Man and Spider-Man, it’s just that here the sassy comebacks are thrown between a teenage girl and her friends and family. 

There’s a dash of Mean Girls, the feel of Pretty in Pink, and you could even go as far as to whisper Dawson’s Creek with a nostalgic yearning for the way Pacey and Joey used to chit-chat in the glow of sun set. After all, Lady Bird is set in 2002, the same year Dawson began his final season at the Creek

Photo credit: Universal Pictures

Photo credit: Universal Pictures

"At its heart this is a film that women want to talk to other women about, and not to discount men.`'

Much has been made of how Lady Bird has two wonderfully realistic, complex female characters at its core but the supporting players, particularly the men in Lady Bird’s life, are also given a purpose and a believable reason to join in on screen. Male depression is handled sensitively, as is the rush of emotions felt by boys growing into men, whether applied to Lady Bird’s first love or her elder brother. It’s no wonder Greta Gerwig was deep in conversation with Meryl Streep at the recent Oscar nominees’ luncheon. At its heart this is a film that women want to talk to other women about, and not to discount men, this is more about extending the typical conversations about teenage girls and in this case, how some may relate to their mothers as they exit puberty. 

Saoirse Ronan admits her own mother (who she loves dearly, FaceTiming her from the auditorium when she won a Golden Globe the other week) often gets the brunt of that mood. This relatable behaviour in part encapsulates Lady Bird’s success and why so many want to share in its story.

“It could be a little thing,” she says, “but I’ll then feel so guilty about it, I’ll instantly apologise. I can’t argue with my mam for that long.”  

By Natalie Jamieson.

Lady Bird is out in UK cinemas on 16 Feb 2018

WOMEN IN FILM, ELECTRAEmma Jones