My last review was of Greta Gerwig’s brilliant Lady Bird, a coming-of-age tale centred on the life of 17-year old Christine (Saoirse Ronan), who rails against her quiet home town and tries desperately to start having the experiences which she feels constitute real life. This consists of boys, independence and East coast liberal arts colleges, at the exasperation of her mother (Laurie Metcalf).
Here are a few film suggestions to watch if you enjoyed Lady Bird as well:
- The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Marielle Heller, 2015)
Based on a 2002 graphic-novel of the same name, The Diary of a Teenage Girl was a touching portrait of a young woman who tries to assert her maturity by embarking on a sexual exploration, including seducing her mother’s boyfriend. Far from some bleak kitchen sink drama á la Fish Tank (2008), the film is as vibrant and colourful as the 1970’s San Francisco where the film is set.
Bel Powley plays 15-year old Minnie, who becomes giddy with the power afforded to her from her new sexual maturity – she is clearly awestruck when she realises that Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard), her mother’s lover, finds her attractive. Much like Lady Bird, the troubled relationship between Minnie and her mother (Kristen Wiig) is at the film’s heart, and the representation of female adolescence felt radical to me on first viewing.
- Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach, 2012)
An easy one to recommend, Frances Ha is a film starring Greta Gerwig who plays the titular character. Frances is an aspiring dancer who is not quite as talented as she hopes to be, and she struggles to make ends meet in New York after her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner) moves out of their apartment to a more affluent area.
On re-watching Frances Ha it could quite easily be Lady Bird’s unofficial sequel, with Frances exhibiting the same doe-eyed belief which Christine holds in the promised land of New York’s creative colleges. Frances Ha is the best of Gerwig’s collaborations with Noah Baumbach and is essential viewing for understanding where Lady Bird comes from.
- The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971)
1972’s Best Picture Oscar winner, The Last Picture Show is the story of a Texan town which is on its last legs and the local teenagers who aim to leave as soon as they can. Jeff Bridges and Timothy Bottoms play two best friends, Duane and Sonny, who try to navigate their first relationships and their lack of prospects without giving-in to the hopelessness which seems to engulf the town and its inhabitants. Lots of parallels can be drawn between the way the boys see their town and the way Christine views Sacramento as barren of any excitement in Lady Bird.
Peter Bogdanovich shot the film in black-and-white to heighten the bleakness of the town, in which the cinema offers the only visions of opportunity. Sonny and Duane struggle with their lack of prospects and find only frustration in their romances, especially both with Jacy (Cybill Shepherd). The ending of The Last Picture Show is one of the most heart-wrenchingly poignant that I have seen.