I saw Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird, last night. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I wasn’t just watching a movie, and I wasn’t just watching a movie I enjoyed—I was watching one of my favorite movies ever.
Lady Bird tells the story of Christine, aka Lady Bird (Saiorse Ronan) coming of age in Sacramento in the early 2000s. With that framework, it’s clear early on that Lady Bird is a lot of things. It’s a movie about friendship. It’s a movie about young love. It’s a movie about fitting in and not fitting in and who the fuck really cares if you’re fitting in. It’s a movie about being young and hopeful, and it’s a movie about being young and hopeless. It’s about everything great about youth and everything terrible about it.
At its core, though, Lady Bird is about family. It’s about the relationship between parents and their children, specifically about the relationship between a mother and her daughter.
For the majority of its running time, Lady Bird is a non-stop, frenetic thrill ride through the ups and downs of being seventeen and everything that comes with it. It’s heartfelt and hilarious, but it’s also powerful and poignant. There were times where it felt like I was missing more lines than I was hearing because the audience was still laughing at something that happened in a previous scene. That didn’t matter.
Lady Bird captures its subject, both the titular character and the theme, so perfectly that the words are almost irrelevant. There’s a feeling there, at the center of Lady Bird, that sticks with you, especially as the movie pushes through the end of high school and on to the wonderful, terrifying, exhilarating, absolutely fucking terrifying thing that is adulthood.
The relationship between Lady Bird and her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalfe) is fraught with a palpable tension that’s almost unbearable at times. It’s also completely real, wholly genuine, in a way that makes both characters more endearing by the second. They’re two sides of the same coin, and they’re inextricably linked whether they like it or not.
We’ve all been there, maybe not to the extremes Lady Bird goes to, but I doubt there’s anyone out there who hasn’t been on one or both sides of the Lady Bird/Marion situation. And that’s the magic of Lady Bird.
This is a movie that’s relatable, whether you’ve been in its characters’ situations or not. The locations and circumstances might be different, the people and their misfortunes might not fall the same way, but the emotions of Lady Bird are universal. They’re real. They’re raw. They’re honest.
Do yourself a favor and see it as soon as you get the chance. Just be ready to see it again to catch everything you missed the first time.