A movie about a 17-year-old high school senior in California, “Lady Bird” took the world by storm after its initial release in the United States on Nov. 3. It garnered the attention of several media outlets after it broke a Rotten Tomatoes record, maintaining a 100 percent score with 164 reviews.
Set in 2002, the movie is a direct reflection of first-time director Greta Gerwig’s own life in Sacramento.
At the heart of the movie is Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, who is played by Irish-American actress, Saoirse Ronan. Throughout the 93-minute feature, the viewers witness life-changing moments of Lady Bird’s life, from her father losing his job to her losing her virginity. On the cusp of graduating from a Christian high school, she longs to go to university in New York City where, she believes, the intellectuals and writers really are, and thus, where she belongs.
Ronan nails her portrayal of the tormented teenager. She displays a perfect amount of emotion which makes the audience believe in her performance and be able to see themselves in her. The tense relationship she has with her mother Marion – played by Laurie Metcalf – resonates with the viewers in its authenticity and rawness.
The complexity of their relationship is highlighted during their conversation outside a thrift shop dressing room. “‘I just wish … I wish that you liked me,” Lady Bird says sorrowfully. “Of course, I love you.” “But do you like me?” Marion can only reply with that most stiflingly parental of philosophies: “I want you to be the very best version of yourself that you can be.” “What if this is the best version?”, Lady Bird asks.
While the authenticity and the familiarity in the mother-daughter relationship is enough to warm the audience’s hearts, the conversation between Lady Bird and the headmistress Sister Sarah Joan, characterized by Lois Smith, adds yet another layer to this film. It makes the viewer look at Lady Bird in a different light. The core of the message is that paying attention is a sign of love. The 17-year-old might believe that she abhors her hometown but the level of the attention she gives it is akin to a declaration of love, according the headmistress. This part of the movie alone is enough to make it a must-watch.
To some, the movie might seem overhyped because of its simplicity. But, its success lies in its ability to depict such an accurate and raw representation of reality with no unnecessary theatrics. It’s about watching this movie and thinking, “I’ve been there.”