a LADY BIRD musing
Lady Bird receives a letter from a college and doesn’t wait to open it inside her room. She tears the letter open and smiles, a much more understated reaction than my brother, who started shouting in the street in joy when he opened his in 2002 (the school year before the events of LADY BIRD takes place). Being nine years younger than him, I understood that he would be leaving, as I started crying out of happiness and sadness (much as I’m doing right now as I write this…), watching him celebrate in the street while I stood at our front door. He was happy to leave and we were all ecstatic for him, but a huge weight of melancholy hung over me.
It’s moments like these in a movie when if it can really bring emotion out of me, I pretty much automatically love it. Even though I can’t relate completely to the characters, there are little moments and characteristics that I can identify with myself or people in my life. When those moments really come to play, it’s hard to hold the tears back because of the personal attachments I keep.
Never wanting to be called her given name, Christine/“Lady Bird” aspires to finish her final year high school and leave Sacramento for an east coast university. The story plays out pretty simply, but the beauty, as in all great coming-of-age films, comes from the subtleties of the script and acting, as well as the themes. LADY BIRD deals with identity, fear of being an outsider and what it means to love. These are normal tropes for the genre, but this movie handles it with more heart and subtle authentic touches.
Christine goes through all the ups and downs of high school within her senior year, and it’s never tedious. Saoirse Ronan absolutely knocks her role out of the park, while Laurie Metcalf portrays Lady Bird’s mother with an genuine tough-love edge. The surrounding cast is brilliant, and the film never stops to call attention to its true-to-life subtleties. Christine’s brother is just an Asian adopted/fostered kid, Christine and her mother only shop at a Goodwill, and Julie auditions for a musical with a Catholic church song (sadly only I found the humor in that in my theater…).
Last year, I was praising THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN as being one of my new favorite coming-of-age movies, but LADY BIRD has definitely got to be on top. They deal with similar themes, and while I still love SEVENTEEN, I just have a stronger personal connection to this movie. It’s a pretty flawless film, with strong direction and a great script that really captures a post-9/11 small part of a west coast society. LADY BIRD has plenty of happy-tears moments, and I can’t wait to experience it again and share this movie with the people I love and grew up with.
RATING: BEST OF THE BEST
(Refer to my rating system HERE!)