Lady Bird has one of the funniest opening scenes to a film that I have watched in a really long time. Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is a senior in high school in 2002-2003 and she is trying to really figure out life. She's trying to be a normal girl after 9/11, but at the same time, figure out who she really is and where she belongs.
Most of the time, tired tropes like that are full of baseless jokes just to cash in at the box office.
Praise be to Greta Gerwig for finally giving us a high school dramedy that gives the characters actual growth as people and not just circling the drain. I feel like I owe her a hug for getting my attention and writing something I could relate to.
Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts star as Lady Bird's mom and dad, with the focus is really on Lady Bird's relationship with her mother. Her mother wants the best for her but she always tells her the truth, even if it hurts. As a daughter, that takes a toll on your self-esteem and I say this as a woman whose mother appeared to be as flawless as The Devil Wears Prada, until you peel back the layers.
At the same time, Lady Bird's dad struggles with depression and ultimately is downsized. The coincidental thing here is in 2002, my father was also downsized from his engineering job and was then diagnosed with Diabetes, both requiring a major lifestyle change.
Maybe that's why I get this movie so well: I have had a rough relationship with a mother who loved me and supported me even if it hurt. In my case, I had to have a lot of issues with my sexuality even though my parents were ultimately supportive, just because I didn't want to let them down by not being their mirror image.
Lady Bird tries out for the school play, meets a boy, falls for the boy, finds out the boy is gay, moves on, meets another boy, ditches her longtime BFF (Beanie Feldstein) to appear cool, and changes everything about herself all in the span of 94 minutes. This seems like a lot but it's handled carefully as not to make her look as awful as learning about oneself appears from the outside.
The resolution includes Lady Bird never losing her faith in her religion. Sometimes, I wish that were true for me, but it's not. I left the Catholic church a long, long time ago. And, while I leave room open to join it again someday, the people, that tell me I don't belong because I am a married lesbian, are what keep me away.
Lois Smith plays Sister Sarah, and she invokes some serious Aunt Meg vibes for me. I think that's probably why I didn't immediately have fear of her character like I do with most women who are Nuns (Catholic school wasn't so great for me). And, she just had to deliver the "6 inches for the Holy Spirit" line during a school dance, which makes it that much better.
I don't know who Beanie Feldstein is because she hasn't really been on my radar yet, but I adore her style. She has this look about her when her character is hurt and it physically makes my heart break into shards. I have a feeling she could get typecast in the future but I hope she pulls through it.
Looking back, knowing what I know about people like this (myself included), the easiest way to explain this movie is to say that they all probably grew up to be hipsters. The difference is that while Lady Bird is a selfish person, she sees people for who they are, even if it takes some time. She's not a horrible person, she's not a great person. She's just a person.
High five, Greta Gerwig. You are officially added to the "Directors I'd Love to Work With " list!