Hilarious, adorable, inspiring, creative, relatable, powerful. All of these qualities describe the wonderful new Greta Gerwig movie, “Lady Bird,” which features rising stars Saoirse Ronan, Beanie Feldstein and Timothée Chalamet. While the film has received several awards and has had a surprisingly high turnout at the box office for an indie movie, the best thing about it is that it explores, with unprecedented depth and humor, female relationships and what it’s like to grow up as a young, rebellious teenage girl.
The movie is set in Sacramento, CA, where Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, played by Ronan, goes to an all-girls Catholic high school. The opening scene shows Lady Bird fighting with her mother in the car regarding college, a pertinent issue in the movie. Lady Bird wants to go to an offbeat liberal arts school, but her mother, after considering money and her daughter’s work ethic, thinks that a state school would be best. The fight escalates and while her mother is driving, Lady Bird opens the door and rolls out of the moving vehicle. Gerwig then abruptly and comedically cuts the the next scene of Lady Bird at school with a pink cast around her arm.
The endearing nature of the opening scene foreshadows the equally entertaining quality that the rest of the movie takes. The film doesn’t follow a strict plot per se, but rather provides the viewer with multiple episodes in the life of young Lady Bird. It delves into her relationships with her parents—particularly focusing on her relationship with her mom—and depicts hilarious, relatable and cutting moments with her best friend. The movie also focuses on Lady Bird’s school life. She stirs up drama by cheating on schoolwork and rebelling against all the ideas that are fed to her at Catholic school. The film also delves into the two relationships that Lady Bird is in over the course of the film and depicts how these romances both implode in the most typical ways.
There are so many aspects of the movie that made it incredibly original and extremely heartfelt. To begin, Lady Bird as a character is very easy to connect with. Lady Bird has pink hair, refuses to go by her given name, yells at her mom, makes friends with the mean girls and comes to regret it, decides to act in a play during her senior year of high school, wants to go to a quirky liberal arts school, dates boys who care more about reading “Infinite Jest” than dating her, binge-eats food and candidly talks about sex with her best friend. The concepts of being frustrated with how you look and are, feeling utterly irritated by but simultaneously not good enough for your parents, having a hard time but having enough gumption to try new things anyway, and loving the female friends who are there for you are all central issues that Lady Bird deals with and are very applicable to the female high school experience in general.
Another aspect of the film that brought a lot of depth to the storyline was Lady Bird’s relationships with the other women in her life. Her intense fights with her mother about everything from what to wear to where to go to college are countered with equally intense moments of her mother quietly expressing her love to her daughter or Lady Bird begging for forgiveness. One poignant scene when Lady Bird is trying on dresses really embodies her relationship with her mother. Lady Bird tells her mother, “I wish that you liked me.” Her mother responds with, “Of course I love you,” to which Lady Bird then asks, “But do you like me?” I found this scene insightful and relatable—pointing out that all-too-familiar conflicting feeling of knowing that your mother loves you, but at the same time feeling that she doesn’t approve of your personality or priorities.
Lady Bird’s relationship with her best friend is also important in the movie. There were times in which the two are seen laughing and relating to each other and other times in which Lady Bird mistreats her best friend. The ability that the friends have to pick back up where they left off, and at the end of the day, honor the love they have for each other, was heartwarming and illustrative of how beautiful and comforting women’s friendships can be.
Additionally, Lady Bird’s two romantic endeavors have a lot of relatable hilarity in them but also speak volumes about the awkwardness and cruelty of young relationships. Both boys are caricatures of their respective “types.” One is an impassioned theater type—cute and seemingly kind, but as we find out, not interested in girls. The other is a typical sad boy who loves to smoke cigarettes, read about communism and play in his band and is too “chill” to be caught at any school event. Lady Bird proves to be on a different plane than both of them, as she is entirely more socially tuned in and mature—an insight that is all too true of the dynamic of young heterosexual relationships. While these relationships were funny because of how true to life they are, they also present the viewer with some unfortunate ways teenage boys treat teenage girls, which I thought was an important point to bring to light.
All in all, “Lady Bird” was hilarious at times and heartbreaking at others. This type of unconventional female-centered experience, while seeming niche in nature, has insights about growing up that, in my opinion, could be relatable not just to young girls, but also to many diverse crowds. Also, I think that any Vassar student would love it. I highly recommend it—go check it out!