After watching Lady Bird for the second time, I turned to my mum sitting next to me almost in tears, a rare sight for this strong Yorkshire lass. She explained it felt like her story.
Lady Bird’s chutzpah epitomises the women Greta Gerwig portrays in her films, although this façade of confidence is broken through the journey of the film, symbolising the modern imperfect woman. This teenage coming-of-age story does little to compensate for an uncompromising, verging on arrogant protagonist Lady Bird, bulldozing her way through the classic teenage rites of passage.
The honest experience of the first boy you love is gay, the first boy you shag is a prick, and the first shag you have is crap is a lot more relatable than all the perfectly sculpted bums and first loves in most romcoms or coming-of-age stories, usually ending with the guy getting the girl. Lady Bird is about the girl getting her independence. She grows too big for her family unit and matures out of the small-town mentalities of her peers in Sacramento. But, when her dreams of being in the big city of New York are made a reality, she still feels like the outsider. Gerwig describes the transitional period between adolescence and adulthood making everyone feel like an outsider, wishing to fit in or feel ‘normal’ against the people around you. Ladybird’s big ego in her small town makes her stand out, but in the city, everyone’s egos are bigger. Finally, a small fish in a big pond.
The idealised city in Lady Bird’s mind is filled with interesting people wanting deeper intellectual conversations compared to the immaturity at home, perfectly portrayed in her comic conversations with her best friend, Julie, resulting in a fight about her Mom’s tits being fake. Beanie Feldstein shouts, “She made one bad decision at nineteen” and Saoirse Ronan yells over her “Two Bad Decisions!”.
The realisation that the reality of New York and college student interactions being just as boring or uncomfortable as to what Lady Bird felt at home, excuses her escapism to drown her sorrows. Her dreams are not so big and dramatic in the city where almost everyone has the same mindset, and her brassy and unrelenting personality is squashed by the pretentiousness of first year university students. The feeling of isolation whilst being surrounded by people, that which is relevant to cities during the pandemic, makes her emotionally return home. She leaves a voicemail for her mother.
Lady Bird asks for forgiveness, with a new appreciation for the flaws in the adult world. This seems an adequate and more honest explanation of growing up for younger viewers. You are still left with your thoughts and the body you have always had, there is no change with a new birthday or a move to a new city or the start of university. The adult world seems a constant disappointment and cycles of depressive then lighter moments. However, the lesson I take from Lady Bird is to process the changes that come with maturing but treasure the people who have proven to always be there, even when they are far away, as adulthood seems to be a string of long distant relationships. Then again, Lady Bird’s voicemail could just be a relatable hungover ramble with running makeup and vomit covered clothes; a symbol for university students.
Edited by Andriani Scordellis, Film Editor