Movie Review: Lady Bird

Lady Bird was FANTASTIC. Now the winner of the 2017 Golden Globes, Lady Bird has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, an 8.1 on IMDB, and an 81% audience rating. Family, friends, and peers had been recommending I see this movie for weeks, and usually, movies are far less than their promotion. This time, however, I was blown away. Falling somewhere in the same vein as Perks of Being a Wallflower or (insert artsy teen movie here), it built on the existential struggles of being a teen in the modern world. This is not at all a new concept by any means, and the plot is a mishmash of different storylines we have all seen before. However, Lady Bird does it better. Far better.

Lady Bird focuses on the life of Christine Mcpherson, a seventeen-year-old from Sacramento, California. She shares similar qualities with a far under-represented portion of the population: the average. Ladybird has below average grades, doesn’t have particularly stunning good looks, strong relationships or any outstanding talents. Though she seems to be artistically inclined, she refuses to let this define her. The movie tracks her journey discovering herself, and finding her self-worth. Ladybird Mcpherson is genuinely endearing, in a way that many main characters aren’t able to fully capture. Many movies, specifically when they are about childhood or adolescence, have the tendency to stereotype – either producing truly sad, tragic films, or an overly happy, nostalgic view of a writer’s childhood. Ladybird, however, captures a very real mix of emotions, both the tragic and the joyous aspect of life. All the characters have such depth and are delicately detailed. Greta Gerwig, the director of the carefully crafted movie, has put strenuous amounts of efforts pouring her own life into each character. In this way, Lady Bird is able to imitate real life in a way that very few movies achieve.  

The film opens expertly, with both Christine and her mother driving back from a college tour, listening to the last section of The Grapes of Wrath. Ladybird and her mother begin to argue about whether to sit and just “bask in what we just heard” or to move on to listening to something new. Her mother criticizes Ladybird for “always needing something to entertain her” and Ladybird, in a sort of hilarious upset, precedes to jump out of the moving car. This scene was one of the single best scenes I’ve witnessed ever. It sets the stage for the movie perfectly by giving you a small preview of what’s to come. The Grapes of Wrath represents the economic struggle the family goes through and the reality of wealth inequality for many families in middle America. The bickering gives you a sense of the relationship between the mother and the daughter but also represents a fundamental difference between the two characters – Her mother’s will to stay and her stubbornness, compared to Ladybird’s will to leave and her own stubbornness. Most importantly it emphasizes the role of family in our lives, and Ladybird continues to give us a very real picture of what that sometimes looks like, the good the bad and the ugly.  

This picture is an indie gem, but you don’t need to be a film connoisseur to enjoy it by any stretch of the imagination. Lady Bird is simply delightful in all aspects and has very prevalent, yet fragile themes that are handled with extreme grace and care. I strongly recommend that everyone see this incredible movie. I promise that even if you don’t like it, you will get it. Because, deep down, Ladybird is all of us, wherever we fall short. Whether in family, looks, relationships, school, creative ability or all of the above, but she still finds joy in the small things, learns to love and to rise above her circumstances and hope for the best.