In 2017, writer/director Greta Gerwig burst into the scene thanks to Lady Bird, which stars Saoirse Ronan as the title character, who navigates through the final year of high school discovering her true identity, while balancing a turbulent relationship with her stubborn, but loving mother. Despite being nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Achievement in Directing and Best Motion of the Year, the reason that this coming-of-age tale resonated with both critics and audiences alike isn’t due to the number of awards or Oscar nominations it received. It’s because Lady Bird is that rare film that perfectly exemplifies growing up as a young adult in an ever-evolving world. One of the key points of the movie is Lady Bird’s relationship with her mother, Marion McPherson. The first few minutes of the feature instantly grabs you by the throat, with Lady Bird being moody and a bit overdramatic and her mom delivering a harsh reality. This scene is so pivotal because it describes the type of dynamic most teenagers have with their parents; Lady Bird is still a young girl trying to understand the world; however, she’s going through a rebellious phase that her mother has to contend with. Marion loves her daughter. From beginning to end, that statement reminds true, even though she stops talking to her once she discovers that Lady Bird applied for a highly expensive school. The point of McPherson’s role is that she’s trying to guide Lady Bird in a positive direction, which is why she gives Lady Bird some tough love throughout the film.
Often, teenagers can be blind to the important lesson that their parents teach them. We tend to dismiss whatever’s being taught because we don’t have a full grasp on the world and cling to whatever truth we believe in our heads. Lady Bird taps into the adolescents of being young; dreaming about the future while not understanding the importance of certain moments that shape us as human beings. Lady Bird’s foray into a relationship that ends in heartbreak or disappointment, to trying to fit in with the popular crowd, or even her first-time having sex are vital moments in a young adult’s life. What makes these moments in Lady Bird so great is that Greta Gerwig doesn’t pull the Hollywood move by sugar coating or romanticizing these important lessons. When Lady Bird finally has that special moment with her dream guy, the sex only lasts a couple of seconds, highlighting the inexperience most teenagers have when diving into sex. Kyle’s response following Lady Bird’s clear disappointment was perfect, “You’re gonna have so much unspecial sex in your life.” The issues presented in the feature don’t necessarily pinpoint the struggles that women face when growing up. Sure, Lady Bird’s journey is written from the prospective of a woman, but it’s not hard to identify with some of the things that the main character is going through.
Who didn’t immediately go out to the store and buy an adult magazine at the turn of 18? Or who hasn’t aimlessly walked through life not understanding why your parents hate you even though they’re showing you tough love? The real world is unforgiving and the moment we leave home, we’re no longer until the protection of our mother and father. When Lady Bird finally transitions into an adult by leaving her nest and going away to college, she’s instantly smacked hard with a dose of reality. It’s during her moment of reflection that Lady Bird finally understands why her mother was such a hard-ass, and the moment that she calls to thank mama McPherson shows the growth of the young woman who’s smoothly evolving into a mature adult. Lady Bird isn’t the flashiest or prettiest film you’ll ever see, nor is a political savvy picture that leaves an impression on you forever. It’s a small and intimate portrait of life shown in a span of 95-minutes. It doesn’t feel like a Hollywood story where a bunch of mid-40s men try to pen a feature that exemplifies the most crucial aspects of our life. Of course, I can’t go through the entire article within commending Greta Gerwig’s sensitive and impeccable direction. It’s not just the director pulling out tremendous performances from Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, and the amazing cast, but it’s the attention to detail that defined the early 2000’s style and culture. Lady Bird is easily one of the best coming-of-age stories of the modern era, and this timely piece will be remembered because both men and women can identify the trials and tribulations of being a young adult.