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‘Lady Bird’ film review: Greta Gerwig takes familiar ingredients to serve up something unique

Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf shine in the Oscar-nominated coming-of-age drama.

A teenager with a fiercely independent streak navigates romance, friendship and other drama in her high school senior year. This tried-and-tested formula that has inspired numerous teen comedies and coming-of-age stories is elevated to a nuanced ode to love in Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird.

Christine Mc Pherson (Saoirse Ronan) wants to spread her wings. She dreams of bigger things and feels weighed down by her circumstances, both real and imagined. She asserts her identity in ways big and small, from dyeing her hair red to rechristening herself Lady Bird – “It’s [a name] given to me, by me”, she declares.

More than anything, Christine wants to break free from Sacramento, the Californian city where she has spent all her 17 years, and go to a place “where culture is”. She identifies New York as that place, but her mother disagrees. There are plenty of good colleges closer home and the family simply doesn’t have the money to send her so far away, her mother (Laurie Metcalf) argues. And so, Lady Bird decides to apply to scholarships to east coast colleges on the sly, with some help from her doting father (Tracy Letts).

Gerwig, already an accomplished actor and writer (among other films, she starred in and co-wrote Francis Ha and Mistress America , both directed by Noah Baumbach), now proves her merit as a director in this Oscar Best Picture-nominated comedy-drama.

Like in Baumbach’s films, New York is at the core of Lady Bird, but in ways that are more symbolic than literal. New York is the city of Lady Bird’s dreams, but her reality is Sacramento. The film, loosely inspired by Gerwig’s formative years, is a love letter to the city of her childhood. That’s also perhaps why the movie is set in 2002-’03, closer to the 34-year-old director’s own adolescence. It’s a time Gerwig recreates in precise detail, from the background score (Dave Mathews Band’s Crash Into Me emerges as a motif of sorts) to the magazine covers, fashion and even the posters in Lady Bird’s room.

Gerwig’s writing prowess also shines through: the dialogue is butter-smooth and manages to sound clever yet not contrived. For instance, while ruing the seeming mundaneness of her life and times, Lady Bird says, “The only exciting thing about 2002 is that it’s a palindrome.”

At another point, when a romantic interest brings up the ongoing Iraq war to tell her not to sweat the small stuff, she shouts back: “Different things can be sad. It’s not all war.”

Love is explored in many forms in Lady Bird, whether it’s Christine’s romantic interests – played by Lucas Hedges and Timothee Chalamet – or her relationship with best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) or even her ties to the city. But the emotional fulcrum of the film is Lady Bird’s relationship with her mother.

Lady Bird (2017). Credit: A24
Lady Bird (2017). Credit: A24

Marion is hard on Lady Bird, overly critical and often much too harsh. The movie commands empathy for both characters throughout, tugging the viewer towards Lady Bird’s point of view at some instances and Marion’s in others. Though there is hardly a scene that does not have Ronan in it, the narrative subtly weaves in and out of her mind. One moment, the viewer is seeing the world through her perspective and the next, you see Lady Bird from the outside, warts and all, as she snubs her best friend, behaves petulantly and disregards her parents’ feelings.

In a short runtime of about 90 minutes, Lady Bird emerges as a fully realised film as Gerwig manages to pack in tones of wisdom and sketch a nuanced picture of not just the protagonists but also the supporting characters. The performances elevate the film further: 24-year-old Ronan shows acting prowess far beyond her age and Metcalf, with her expressions and emotions, manages to convey much more than what her few lines do.

Gerwig seems to take great delight in overturning cliches. Her directorial debut brims with emotion and talent and is a success precisely because it takes something trite and manages to make it novel.

Lady Bird.
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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.


Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.