Having become the best rated film on Rotten Tomatoes, with a “Certified Fresh” rating and more than 190 consistently positive reviews, Lady Bird is a film you shouldn’t let slip by before the year is up.
Set in the early 2000s in Sacramento, California, Lady Bird is the beautiful coming-of-age story of an angsty senior at a Catholic high school. Starring Saoirse Ronan as Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson, Lady Bird is an exceptional and emotional film that you weren’t expecting.
The best thing about the film is how relatable it is. I found myself reminiscent of my past over the smallest details of the film. Lady Bird gives the perfect rendition of a strained relationship between a mother and her rebellious teenage daughter, balanced with moments filled with anger, love, and laughs. The film speaks to the connection between mother and child, as well as the relation between a child and her family dynamic as she also explores her connection with her dad, brother, and best friend. Most importantly, she navigates her connection with herself, trying to become an independent young lady and find how she fits in the world.
The film portrays the true, gritty reality of what it’s like to grow up poor in an affluent area. Lady Bird and her pink hair is contrasted from the shiny, bright and blue world from “across the tracks.” Differentiating from most coming-of-age films, in which a female protagonist is affluent by default and paving her way into adulthood through teen tropes, Lady Bird is a not a cliche teen film. It raw and filled with nostalgic emotion from teenage years.
That’s another great aspect: nostalgia. Those who have lived through 2002-2003 (years that the film takes place within) are the primary audience for the film, but even those who were too young to remember can relate to the essence of the early 2000s. The story wouldn’t be the same if set in 2017, Lady Bird as a character wouldn’t have as much strength and her story wouldn’t be as impactful post-Iphone. The setting creates a longing for the past, such as how IT (2017) and Stranger Things have created a longing for the 80’s.
Thus, Lady Bird’s experiences are timeless. From her first love, to her second, she tries to reach all of the essential milestones of teenage life, changing herself to fit in with certain crowds to be accepted and viewed differently than she truly is. Lady Bird is on a journey to become the “best person she can be” while questioning if she has peaked and can even become better.
The humor is spot on and well balanced out with the emotional moments. Beanie Feldstein’s performance as Lady Bird’s best friend Julie, isn’t just comic relief, but a warm friendship in which they laugh and bicker about the high-school musical and math class. Most laughs come from situational comedy, line delivery, and from the writing. All the characters are written well and embellished to a slightly comic, yet realistic degree. Such as Kyle (Timothée Chalamet), who can literally only read his novel and talk about the Iraq war, or Shelly, (Marielle Scott) Lady Bird’s brother’s monotone and edgy girlfriend who lives with them.
There is so much to say about Lady Bird. Greta Gerwig has produced a fresh approach to coming-of-age films. It reminded me of old classics such as Pretty in Pink, but also new age films like Edge of Seventeen. However, Lady Bird connects on a deeper level and doesn’t use love as the main reason for her maturity. All the tiny details of her life add onto her, allowing her to grow as a person. Lady Bird is the type of film to give you butterflies, but also make your heart ache. The ending, which was so satifying, graceful, and perhaps the best scene of the film, was one that resonated so deeply. After watching, you’ll want to call your parents and thank them and apologize for being a shitty teenager.