My husband went out with the guys one night this week, and while I had a ton of things I needed to do, I decided to treat myself to a solo date night, and finally got to see "Lady Bird," Greta Gerwig's directorial debut and starring Saoirse Ronan. Greta also wrote the screenplay. I adore Saoirse, but I was worried it was going to be another long, drawn out, indie drama that required me to use my intellectual brain to find the deeper meaning and artistic vision, and ultimately leaving me depressed and uninspired--it's just what I've come to expect of many film festival selections. But, it was actually brilliant and I LOVED IT.
"Lady Bird" is a coming of age story about a seventeen year old girl in her senior year of high school, navigating self-identity and discovery, teenage social politics, puppy love, and a complicated mother-daughter relationship. It really could have been a long, drawn-out dramedy, heavy on the drama, light on the comedy; but Greta Gerwig achieved the exact opposite. The comedic timing is spot on. Its sincerity is refreshing--not just in the storytelling, but even in the casting. I loved that for once, high schoolers in a movie looked like actual high schoolers.
This story was me in high school and my relationship with my mother wrapped up in a hilarious and relatable indie movie. In fact, the movie takes place in 2002, which is the year I started high school, and throughout the movie I kept wondering if I dressed as oddly back in the early millennium, and I probably did, though with a SoCal twist rather than a NorCal one. But this was me--Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson was in many ways me in high school. I was a free-spirit and odd, did theatre, battled the confusion of staying true to myself and wanting to be accepted by the "cool" kids, only to realize years later that I had no idea who I was and what an idiot teenager I actually was. I too, ran for class council with a peculiar campaign--Lady Bird's might've been more clever than mine, because mine was just silly and immature... "Don't be a weenie, vote for Justeeny." I did always win though. And like Lady Bird, I also fancied myself far away from my hometown post-high school, and also like Lady Bird, landed not too far away. At least I landed in Santa Barbara and not cow-town though. I was hungry for all the life and possibilities that existed beyond my high school gates. I'm always hungry for everything the world has to offer, but I've also learned and finally appreciate the incredible place my hometown really is.
One thing I really loved and related to in the movie was the mother-daughter relationship. I don't think I've ever seen a mother-daughter relationship portrayed on film like this, at least not in such a genuine way--one to which I could relate--and it made me smile and I was like, "YES. Thank you!" As you'll oft hear me describe, my mother and I are like two fireballs out of the same volcano. She's a Leo and I'm a Taurus. We are two very strong personalities, and we can go from yelling at each other, to cuddling and laughing. I'm not saying it's the healthiest relationship, but I've always had a difficult time describing our relationship, because we are very close, but we're also often at odds with each other. Thankfully my mother never told me she didn't believe I was good enough for certain things in life, but almost everything else in the movie was spot on. My mother, like Lady Bird's mother, has a big heart and does everything out of love, and sometimes that means expressing that love in her own frustrating ways. And inevitably, there are then those moments in life when a girl just needs her mother, and those moments in life become the most precious--like an unspoken truth that only mother and daughter can understand.
I think that if a man had written and/or directed this, I'm sure our quirky and spunky teen would have been more annoying than relatable, and it just wouldn't have worked. The fact that this was a female story, written and directed by a woman made it so real, relatable, and funny. Being a teenager has got to be the most confusing and weird times in our lives, even when we think we've got it figured out, and Greta Gerwig captures this perfectly.
In case it's not clear already, women are tired of watching unrealistic, pathetic, and backwards versions of themselves on screen. We're tired of being portrayed totally cliche, dull, or blatantly stupid. If we want to see real women, and real women's stories, they have to be told by women.
Go see "Lady Bird" while you can! I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
BIG LOVE & HUGS