“Anyone who talks about California hedonism has never spent a Christmas in Sacramento.”
Lady Bird has come out of nowhere and captured the hearts of audiences and critics everywhere. Drawing from her own high school years, writer/director Greta Gerwig brings the world an honest, funny portrayal of a teenage girls’ chaotic journey of self-discovery. With a tremendous cast, realistic dialogue and believable scenarios, Lady Bird deserves to join John Hughes movies and Mean Girls as some of the best teen movies of all time.
Set in 2002, Lady Bird centres on the senior year of rebellious teen Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson. Lady Bird longs to escape Sacramento, California to more cultured surroundings. But for now, she has no choice but to endure one more year of catholic school. During that time, she’ll have to kill time with her friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) while choosing between easy going actor Danny (Lucas Hedges, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and intellectual musician Kyle (Timothee Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name).
Meanwhile, her family life has its own problems. The family is strapped for cash after Lady Bird’s father Larry (Tracy Letts) was laid off, forcing long suffering mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) is to provide for the whole family. That is when she and Lady Bird aren’t at each other’s throats, which is always.
And that’s it. It’s just Lady Bird, her friends and her family going through their daily lives before Lady Bird graduates. The film is not so much a plot as it is a series of segments. But in those segments are moments many can recognize from their teen years. Many remember pasting magazine photos on their walls. Many remember their friends sneaking into the house in the middle of the night for a snack. What we forget is in those moments, we are discovering our selves and what we truly want out of life. Of course, it involves impulsively joining activities, then quitting when you lose interest. But it’s here where you learn what your true interests are.
At the core of the film is Lady Bird’s testy relationship with her mother. From the opening argument, we are introduced to one of the most accurate depictions of a mother-teen daughter relationship ever put to film. They start off enjoying an activity, like listening to an audiobook of Grapes of Wrath. Then a single sentence will set off a verbal battlefield between the two. It all ends with Lady Bird jumping out of the moving car. Ok, the last part almost never happens, but Gerwig does perfectly capture the minefield that is their conversations. Lady Bird wants her independence respected but feels smothered by her overbearing mother. The overworked Marion wishes Lady Bird would steer herself in the right direction. Through the anger hides the love between. Lady Bird may be inconsiderate, but she doesn’t want to her mother. Marion may smother her daughter, but that’s because she cares a lot about her daughter. But these two have learned to hurt each other.
On top of all that, this movie is very funny. There are so many funny moments I don’t know where to begin. There’s Lady Bird’s interactions with the snarky Sister Sarah Joan (Lois Smith). There’s Lady Bird snarking about Julie’s mother’s breast implants (Julie: “She made one bad decision at 19!” Lady Bird: “Two bad decisions!”). My favourite is when a coach tries to direct “The Tempest” like it’s a football game.
I imagine that within 5 years, Lady Bird will join Mean Girls, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Fast Times at Ridgemont High as must-see movies for high school students. Through quotable dialogue, memorable characters and well-crafted storytelling, these films capture both the fantastic dreams and awkward realities of teen life. Being literally one of the highest rated films of all time, Lady Bird is sure to gain the attention it deserves.