By Molly Mahoney ’18
At Catholic girls’ high school, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson sticks out like a sore thumb. Her messy, dyed hair matches the neon pink cast she wears after she broke her arm jumping from a moving car.
Played by Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird herself is impossible not to fall in love with. She embodies the internal conflicts of teens, simultaneously divergent and conformist, generous and selfish, a hopeless romantic and a realist.
The film is set in Sacramento in 2002, at the place and time that director Greta Gerwig grew up. Her personal connection with the story of an artistic, curious girl’s final year of high school was evident in the accuracy and authenticity of the film. In fact, “Lady Bird” earned a perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
As Lady Bird navigates college admissions, falling in love, then surviving heartbreak, ditching her best friend for a richer, more popular one, financial struggles and a turbulent relationship with her critical mother, the film is tied together by consistent honesty.
This came through successfully in the details, such as the awkwardness of a first kiss, “I hate you” being thrown at parents in fights and the struggle to finally take control of life after graduating high school.
For example, in the trailer, a teacher says, “So you’re not interested in any Catholic colleges.” Lady Bird replies, “No way. I want schools like Yale, but not Yale because I probably couldn’t get in.” The teacher laughs. “You definitely couldn’t get in.” Not only is the movie realistic because of Gerwig’s experiences, but also because of her talent as a solo director.
“To watch someone come into their own and do something they were born to do is amazing,” Ronan said of Gerwig. One critic, after exploring Gerwig’s past collaborative work, wrote “Though autobiographical elements pop up in many of her scripts, the collaborations lack the sort of generosity and understanding she brings to her solo debut.” In fact, the solo debut has been so successful that “Greta Gerwig‘s directorial debut is officially the best reviewed movie on Rotten Tomatoes, edging out Toy Story 2 for the movie with the most reviews to hold a 100% score.”
“Lady Bird” is not just another coming of age story, but an insightful portrayal of universal themes of adolescence that nobody in the theater can help reacting to with emotion.
“So many girls can probably relate to the school stress and love problems,” Eden Schumer ’18 said. “Her character wasn’t perfect, so it was nice to see her pick herself up again and go after her goals.”
In each of two viewings of “Lady Bird,” I left the theater a sobbing mess because, spoiler alert, when Lady Bird achieves her dream of attending college in New York City, she finally realizes how much was left unspoken with the mother she has always loved deep down, and overwhelmingly misses Sacramento more than she can enjoy her new life. The heartbreak of both mother and daughter realizing how much they have always loved each other, even if they didn’t always show it, just when it’s too late was too much for me to bear.
I’m in love with this movie. I would watch it on repeat if I could. The beautiful craft, the natural lines, the relatable story line and everything else that I can’t quite do justice in words are simply captivating. One moment, as I stared at the screen, I was laughing harder than ever and the next I was in tears. “Lady Bird” is a must see.