“Lady Bird” is a heartfelt coming-of-age narrative that masterfully portrays a rebellious, young woman’s journey into adulthood. Greta Gerwig returns to directing for only the second time in her career. Her first being 2008’s low budget, romantic drama “Nights and Weekends” which tells the story of a couple’s struggle with a long-distance relationship. Gerwig is no stranger to writing and acting in films with her most notable work being 2012’s “Frances Ha” and 2015’s “Mistress America”. Acting in movies by acclaimed directors like Noah Baumbach and Mike Mills, Gerwig has acquired the skills needed in her transition into the director’s chair with “Lady Bird”.
“Lady Bird” is set in 2002 Sacramento, California, where we join Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) in her senior year at a Catholic high school. Lady Bird longs for stimulation, acceptance and opportunity, but struggles to find any of those things at her high school. We follow her through multiple personal growth situations such as her first romance, losing her virginity in a very “unspecial” way and the emotional hurdles that come along with applying for colleges. Lady Bird wants nothing more than to get accepted to a prestigious, east coast school far away from Sacramento, but gets reminded regularly by her teachers and family that she should acquire more realistic aspirations.
The McPhersons live in a modest home on “the wrong side of the tracks”. Living at the home is Lady Bird’s adopted, well-educated brother Miguel (Jordan Rodrigues), her brother’s vintage leather wearing girlfriend Shelly (Marielle Scott), her depressed, unemployed father Larry (Tracy Letts) and her overworked, stressed mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) who serves as the family rock and voice of reason. Lady Bird and her father agree to secretly apply to the east coast schools she desires. Her father surprises her with the completed paperwork on Christmas and even goes to the length of refinancing the family home to solidify financial aid. This all being done behind Marion’s (Metcalf) back to avoid her opposition to the entire idea. She would rather see her daughter attend a more attainable, local school. The mother-daughter relationship between Marion and Lady Bird is pushed to extreme lengths, and its strength is tested and eventually proven.
“Lady Bird” perfectly executes the experiences teenagers go through while transitioning into young adulthood and the emotions that go along with them. The struggles of friendships, first romances, family issues, an unknown future and ultimately finding one’s place in the world. The things in life you once distanced yourself from, your hometown, school, friends and family, have now become the building blocks of your life that you return to on a regular basis out of familiarity, comfort and love.
“Lady Bird” is nominated for five Oscars including Best Motion Picture of the Year (Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, Evelyn O’Neill) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Saoirse Ronan). It is currently showing at The Fargo Theatre.