Lady Bird, this coming of age film is oh-so relevant


Anissa Gardizy

LADY BIRD- This coming of age film written and directed by Greta Gerwig takes a 2002 plot setting and makes it oh-so relevant for teens in 2018.

Lady Bird (released November 5th, 2017)

Director and Writer: Greta Gerwig

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Starring:  Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, and Tracy Letts

It’s no surprise that  indie A24 movie Lady Bird walked away with two Golden Globe awards last night for best comedy film and best comedy actress. Director and writer Greta Gerwig’s portrayal of the relationship between a mother and daughter in 2002 far exceed expectations while being oh-so relevant. What might seem like the “hipster version” of Mean Girls is a coming of age film that delves below superficiality and touches on real issues facing teens today.

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) likes to go by her given name, Lady Bird- and by “given name” she of course means “given to me, by me”. The seventeen year old free spirit feels caged in her hometown of Sacramento by her overarching mom (Laurie Metcalf), who she doesn’t ever seem to get along with. Lady Bird and her mom fight over the typical controversies like messy rooms and radio stations, but there are deeper problems explored between the two family members.

Believing that her family lives on the “wrong side of the tracks”, Lady Bird experiences the everyday pressures of  income inequality between her and her peers at the private Catholic school that she attends. With a dad who was laid off and a mom who works double shifts as a nurse, Lady Bird is constantly reminded of how her family’s finances impact her life. A senior in high school, her dream is to escape California and go to college in New York, but her financial and academic situations make that dream unrealistic, especially in her mother’s eyes. From not being able to buy a $3 book while at the grocery store, to buying her prom dress at a thrift store, Lady Bird fears that her family’s financial struggles might keep her in Sacramento forever.

Overall, Lady Bird herself is hard not to like. Despite some major behavioral flaws, her vulnerability and innocence would make anyone nostalgic of growing up during their teenage years. Although sometimes portrayed as a prankster, Lady Bird’s witty, sharp, and opinionated personality take center stage when it comes to her character. As she grows up however, the film’s setting does play an important role. Since the picture is set in the early 2000’s, the internet, cell phones, and social media have no impact on Lady Bird’s maturity- and that makes it all the more genuine and likable. While having awkward sex talks with her mom, giving out her home phone number, applying to colleges, and even exploring love interests, Lady Bird reminds viewers of a time when Google wasn’t always one click away.

But perhaps one of Lady Bird’s best qualities is its way of incorporating several current topics  into one fluent storyline- that’s right, it’s not merely about the relationship between and mom and her daughter. As already mentioned, the topic of income inequality is a constant theme, but so is depression, drug use, the struggle of coming out, affirmative action, abortion, and feminism (to name a few). And it’s not a jumbled mess of  ideas- it actually makes sense. Gerwig effortlessly ties together different issues that often go untalked about or hidden in reality. The rawness of the plot line makes it all the more relevant for today in 2018 where there is a big push for open discussions about what are seen as uncomfortable topics.

At this point, Lady Bird might sound like a social commentary that is calling for some type of action, but really, it’s a comedy. In today’s day and age, it takes a genius like Gerwig to make a film that can take some of the most controversial topics of the day and weave them seamlessly into a comedy. She doesn’t need outlandish lines or a laugh track to get a chuckle from viewers because it’s the subtleties of Lady Bird that make it so funny and relatable. Whether it’s when calling cell phones tomorrow’s tracking devices, meeting a girlfriend’s parents, or buying cigarettes on an eighteenth birthday, Lady Bird makes viewers reflect and laugh at simple and relatable occurrences.

Cinematically speaking, Gerwig’s portrayal of Lady Bird’s senior year is quite accurate. They say senior year can go by in the blink of an eye, so jump cuts and speedy scenes really set that tone. No matter how important or captivating a scene may be, Gerwig strays from lingering, leaving viewers with the feeling of wanting more time to sit on certain ones. The racing plot reminds us that we can’t slow down time for what we want to see or speed it up for what we don’t want to see. Viewers feel as if Lady Bird’s senior year went by fast because in fact, it did.

As Lady Bird attempts to escape the cage of Sacramento, her coming of age is a relatable and comedic event that brings out the truths of growing up not just in 2002, but in 2018 as well.