Everyone is talking about Ladybird, which already won a number of awards and may even get some Oscars. Is it any good? Yes, it is really good, and certainly worth watching! It’s yet another great directorial debut made with love and passion, in this case by Greta Gerwig (she’s an experienced actress, but it’s her first time behind the camera), as it was the case for Cop car (2015) and Babadook (2014), to make a couple of other examples.
In Ladybird, we follow Christine (Saoirse Ronan), who prefers to be called Ladybird, in her last year of college in Sacramento, California. We witness her friendships, her romances, her school (mis)adventures, and her complex familiar relationships with her mother, father, and brother. I don’t want to spoiler anything! It’s a simple story, it’s well told, it’s carried on by well-written and well-acted dialogues, and the images show us Sacramento in a way in which only a director who was born and raised there could do.
If I had to name two or three movies that I feel close to Ladybird for their intents and/or atmospheres, I would name the 2006 Little miss sunshine (but with less extreme characters), the 1999 American beauty (mainly for the relationships among the teenagers), and the 2007 Juno. As in these movies, in Ladybird we see a US small town described in a realistic way, with all the contradictions of that society in plain sight. The director does not shy away from showing the tough life of those who don’t conform to society’s standards. For example, the great Beanie Feldstein makes us understand perfectly the distress of being overweight in a school in which the most desired girl (Odeya Rush) is good looking and always tanned (and even her mother is in better shape than her, even if thanks to plastic surgery). Lucas Hedges’ character is important to convey another incomprehension, that I prefer not to reveal, even though the actor is not that convincing in his performance (he’s also Frances McDormand’s son in Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri).
But, above all, it’s the rich/poor divide that stands out. We understand that every decision taken by the characters is driven either by the need for more money, or by the lack of money, or by the will to fulfill the American dream of making a lot of money so to be able to live in a bigger house in a better neighborhood, to afford a bigger car, to go to a better University… This is the aspect of Ladybird that makes it more than a teenage comedy/drama for me. The religious factor is also treated interestingly in the movie: religion appears very present in the lives of the Sacramento families that we follow, and its role is presented without any negative nor positive bias.
So, if you want to watch a well-done realistic movie with a simple yet interesting story… I surely recommend watching Ladybird! And one last thing… must Sheldon’s mother (Laurie Metcalf) be a religious over-zealous mother in her every appearance? X–D