If you’ve been spending most of your days procrastinating on the internet (like most of us do) these last few days, chances are that you’ve ended up hearing about ‘Lady Bird’. It’s that same film that has been making headlines for breaking a Rotten Tomatoes record by having a 100% rating. So, how did Greta Gerwig’s indie low-budget film that boasts of no A-list Hollywood stars suddenly become the talk of the town with two Golden Globe wins, and the honour of being the best reviewed film ever?
© IAC Films
The answer is frustratingly simple: It’s because ‘Lady Bird’ is quite simply the most beautiful love-letter to the complexities that come along with teenage life, making it the best coming-of-age films you’ll ever have the pleasure of watching.
‘Lady Bird’ is a film that understands the curse of youth and the gift of adulthood in a way that will make you relate to it like never before. It’s basically an outpouring of all the thoughts, dreams and doubts that each one of us have had while growing up into an adult with responsibilities. Watching ‘Lady Bird’ almost feels like being finally able to confide in someone.
© IAC Films
Remember that time in your life, when you were at the cusp of adulthood and had a checklist ready of how you wanted your life to be, except that the reality turned out to be much duller than how you’d imagined it in your head? ‘Lady Bird’ then essentially chronicles that phase in our lives where we were in between wanting to be someone and becoming someone. It’s a film that shows the journey of figuring our lives.
In the film, Christine, a senior student at Catholic (played sublimely by Saoirse Ronan) wants to be called “Lady Bird” because it’s a name she’s had the free will to give herself, instead of “Christine”, which is a name her parents have afforded to her, without her approval. It’s a trivial demand—one that may have elicited numerous eye rolls and judgment—but one, that almost all of us have wanted at some point of time; having the free rein to choose our own name instead of going with the one on our birth-certificate.
Our ‘Lady Bird’ dreams of being an actress in the future, although in the present, all that comes her way is small, nameless roles in plays. She aspires to be someone who boasts of studying at a college like Yale; but in reality her grades aren’t good enough for it.
The unbridled excitement, aspirations and passions sometimes lead her into confrontations with her parents, especially her mother. At that point in the movie, she throws herself out of a moving car only to rebel against her mother’s incessant nagging. All that Lady Bird wants is to get as far away from home and free her from the shackles of her parent’s watchful eyes. Only then, she thinks, will she be able to live her own life. Except Gerwig ensures that she peppers the film with generous humour while highlighting the complex bond a daughter shares with her mother when she’s a teen.
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Most importantly, at that stage in her life, even though she is gloriously aware of all the things she wants to achieve and become in the future, what her youthfulness is yet to realise or comprehend is the fact that it’s probably going to take her a few years and committing a lot of mistakes to finally get her life on track; exactly the way she envisions it in her head.
It’s a fact that she will come to understand probably later in her life—like most of us have come to terms with things always not going our way when we were young—but at that point, Christine’s youthfulness doesn’t allow her to come to terms with it.
Christine also has this uncontrollable urge to just move out of her home and go to a school “where writers live in the woods” in the hope of giving the life that she will have as an adult, some adventure. After all, isn’t that exactly what we presume growing up will look like- a life-altering phase that will make us into a completely new person, magically erasing the baggage from before.
In being a searing portrait of a confused teenage girl figuring out all the pitfalls that come with figuring out your identity, Lady Bird ultimately becomes a film about all of us. Watching the film feels like revisiting our past, laughing at our youthful foolishness and beaming with pride at our passionate exuberance.
© IAC Films
Now, aged by the cruelty of the world, we may still be trudging along the path to fulfilling our aspirations in between being stuck with responsibilities, but Lady Bird reminds us of the person we used to be when we were young by painting each of us in Christine. It’s an ode to the restlessness we used to possess and the determination we boasted when it came to wanting to pave our own ways, instead of listening to our parents give us archaic advice. ‘Lady Bird’ is as personal as it is universal. In doing that, the film ensures that while continuing to assert our identities, we don’t give up being proud of our rebellious younger selves. For, once upon a time, all of us were Lady Birds. There’s only pride in accepting that.