Direc­tor Greta Ger­wig hon­ours moth­er­daugh­ter dy­nam­ics

Exclaim! - - SCREENSHOTS - By Sarah Mur­phy

GRETA GER­WIG LISTS The 400 Blows and Amar­cord as her favourite com­ing-of-age films. Like most in the genre, they de­pict sto­ries of boys dis­cov­er­ing a sense of per­son­hood as they ma­ture into young men. As Ger­wig puts it, on­screen por­tray­als of young girls on the brink of wom­an­hood are usu­ally about the fe­male char­ac­ter’s “vi­a­bil­ity as a ro­man­tic part­ner.”

Lady Bird, the ac­tress and writer’s solo di­rec­to­rial de­but, is a re­fresh­ing al­ter­na­tive. It tells the story of an en­dear­ingly re­bel­lious pink-haired se­nior de­ter­mined to get out of her north­ern Cal­i­for­nia Catholic high school and move to “where cul­ture is.”

Al­though Ger­wig did at­tend a Catholic girls school in Sacra­mento, she’s quick to brush off the idea that Lady Bird is au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal. “I wasn’t like that; I never made any­one call me by a dif­fer­ent name, I wasn’t par­tic­u­larly out there,” she says. “I was a rule-fol­lower and I liked gold stars. I was kind of a peo­ple pleaser.”

Saoirse Ro­nan’s bril­liantly played Lady Bird does, how­ever, act on the im­pulses Ger­wig ig­nored as a teenager. “I made a hero­ine that I wish I could have been,” she says. “Not a per­fect hero­ine, but one who was liv­ing out some fan­tasy for me.”

Given the lack of other fe­maledriven teen movies to draw in­spi­ra­tion from, Ger­wig cites doc­u­men­tary Grey Gar­dens as one of the works that most in­flu­enced Lady Bird. She calls it the “best mother-daugh­ter movie I’ve ever seen,” prais­ing the Maysles broth­ers’ “per­fectly cap­tured dy­namic of the same fights, the same sto­ries, the same cir­cling of the same is­sues.”

Ger­wig’s film is, at its heart, also a mother-daugh­ter story. It ditches tra­di­tional rom-com tropes to in­stead ex­am­ine the overly crit­i­cal, of­ten hurt­ful, and un­con­di­tion­ally lov­ing dy­namic shared only by moth­ers and daugh­ters. And while the story may be fic­tional, the char­ac­ters on­screen feel real.

“They’re com­pli­cated, they’re in­ter­est­ing, they’re prickly, they’re lov­ing, they’re jerks, they’re he­roes, they’re ev­ery­thing,” Ger­wig says of the women in her life. “Cin­ema should re­flect that.”

“They’re com­pli­cated, they’re in­ter­est­ing, they’re prickly, they’re lov­ing, they’re jerks, they’re he­roes. Cin­ema should re­flect that.”

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