Saoirse Ronan soars in Ladybird

Emer Handly

Credit: Ladybird

Ladybird is a coming of age film about love, heartbreak, friendship and family. It is a semi-autobiographical comedy written and directed by Greta Gerwig.

The film follows Christine McPherson, played by Saoirse Ronan, a quirky, artistic girl in her teens who insists on being called “Ladybird”. As she begins to learn about popularity, boys, sex and drugs Ladybird can’t help but want more than what her small town of Sacramento has to offer.

She wants to apply to art colleges in New York, to the dismay of her mother Marion (played by Laurie Metcalf) who thinks she isn’t smart enough. Ladybird and her mother have a difficult relationship. Her ‘free spirit’ attitude clashes with her mother’s controlling nature.

Beanie Feldstein plays Ladybird’s awkward best friend Julie tremendously well. She is socially anxious with self-esteem issues. The pair support each other and are as close as friends can get.

They join the school’s drama club where Ladybird falls in love with a sweet boy named Danny (Lucas Hedges). They seem to have the perfect ‘young love’ relationship, until one day she catches him kissing another boy. She is heartbroken that her first love is gay.

Ladybird’s dad, Larry (Tracy Letts) helps Ladybird apply to New York colleges unbeknownst to his wife and despite their financial troubles.

Supercool Kyle (Timothée Chalamet) has an ‘I don’t care’ attitude so, of course, Ladybird falls in love with him. They date and lose their virginity together. Well, she thinks they do, but then finds out he’s slept with multiple girls. Queue heartbreak number two.

Ladybird had begun to hang out with the popular kids, leaving Julie behind. She realises she was wrong and in a moving scene they make up and go to prom together. It’s a nice lesson about remembering who your true friends are.

The McPherson family continue to struggle with money. There is a great scene where Ladybird and Marion are talking about Larry’s depression. Marion says, “Money isn’t life’s report card. Being successful doesn’t mean that you’re happy.” Lady Bird responds, “But he’s not happy.” Money doesn’t guarantee happiness, but it can help.

Ladybird gets accepted to an art college in New York, she is ecstatic and cannot wait to start her journey of freedom. This only furthers the tensions and her mother completely stops talking to her.

In a heart-wrenching scene where Ladybird’s parents drop her to the airport, Marion realises she is being too harsh and runs in to say goodbye and makeup with her daughter, but Ladybird is already gone.

Ladybird starts her new life in New York, but it’s not all she thought it would be. In the final scene (which will have you in tears) she leaves a voice message for her mother, calling herself Christine, not Ladybird, and telling her mother that she appreciates everything she’s done for her, that she misses her and her hometown, and that she loves her.

Ladybird is an emotional roller-coaster that teaches you the importance of your roots. Although mother-daughter relationships can be challenging, there is nothing else that compares to the love they contain.