Go and see this film with your mum
No, this is not just a film made by women for women. Ladybird, at the end of the day, is a coming-of-age film that just happens to have been written and directed by a brilliant woman and star, as the lead, another brilliant woman, with lots more brilliant female (and male) supporting roles. But that does not make it a film for women, in the same way that Dunkirk (which to my memory had one female role as a passer-by nurse) is not a film for men. Ladybird has something for everyone and everyone can enjoy it, relate to it and take something away from it. Yes, even a man.
That is the beauty of the film – that it will touch every person in a slightly different way. You, for instance, might feel very touched by the father dealing with depression silently and stoically. Another person might be affected by the young boy dealing with his homosexuality. Another might feel deeply involved in the central friendship, another the central mother-daughter relationship. This is the thing that I found to be most special about Ladybird; that the memories or moments that one person takes away from it, may be entirely different from the memories or moments that another person does.
The other thing that makes Ladybird so special is the fine and perfectly-executed balance between humour and deep emotion. Some moments will have you laughing out loud, some will have tears unwarrantedly leaking from your eyes but at the end of the film, you leave feeling somehow contented. This is partly down to the writing of the film which doesn’t exaggerate the powerful moments of sadness but displays them simply, realistically and, therefore, relatably.
The other part of it is down to the direction and the acting. The acting in this film, in all roles, is faultless. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf, who plays her mother, complement each other so well and both have the wonderful ability to display so much emotion through their facial expressions. The mother-daughter relationship has been the most talked about aspect of the film and there is much reason for this. If you can, I would urge you to go and watch this film with your mother, especially as I am writing this on the UK Mother’s Day – go and watch Ladybird with your mum and you might just share something really special.
Mentioned much less often but acted no less well are Tracy Letts (the dad), Julie Macpherson (the best friend), Lucas Hedges (the first love) and Stephen Henderson who starred as Father Leviatch and had, for me, one of the most powerful, beautiful and touching moments of the film. In fact, I could list every member of the cast as I truly thought they were all brilliant.
All in all, Ladybird is an amazing piece of work. If you go to see it, you will laugh and you will most probably cry and, more importantly, you will watch something really special.
So, Ladybird in three words:
Special, relatable, universal