*Maybe spoilers for Lady Bird*
My biggest fear before watching a movie that has received really high praise is that it will leave me underwhelmed. Luckily, I am happy to announce that Lady Bird deserves all the praise it has received so far and will probably continue to receive. (Oscar buzz, anyone?)
Lady Bird is a story about Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, played by Saoirse Ronan. She is a senior at a Catholic high school and isn’t quite happy with what she has. In that sense, the plot isn’t all that groundbreaking – it’s the characters that keep the movie interesting.
Ronan’s portrayal of Lady Bird is first and foremost believable and genuine. The movie is peppered with these well crafted mother-daughter scenes that don’t feel forced. For instance, the movie starts with Lady Bird and her mother (Laurie Metcalf) on a road trip, while listening to The Grapes of Wrath. It looks like it’s going to be an emotional moment – and it is one – but suddenly things take a weird turn. Just like it would in real life.
Lady Bird’s friends are also really compelling as are the other people who come in and out of her final year of high school. Despite being side characters, they do not feel disposable. They are all very relatable, even though not always in a good way. I am embarrassed to say that I felt personally attacked by the character of Kyle Scheible (Timothée Chalamet).
See, this is exactly what I want to see in a movie: believable characters that I can connect with somehow. That way, even if the plot isn’t that interesting, I can still care about what’s going on. Throughout the movie, I wanted nothing but the best for Lady Bird, because I felt that connection.
Overall, Lady Bird is a great movie. So great in fact that I really don’t feel qualified to add any more praise than it already has received. But there are other things I can talk about.
There is something about American coming-of-age stories that make me feel really jealous. I mean, I had a great time growing up, but there is something romantic about the way American movies depict growing up.
In these movies, growing up is an awkward thing, but it also somewhat glorious. Kids growing up earn the right to grow up, almost. Whereas in my case, I feel like I just kinda grew up and that was it. It feels like people in these stories had fuller childhoods than I did. Granted, they are movie characters and I am not – but still, you don’t see equivalent stories being told in mainstream Turkish movies, for instance.
(In case they are being told, please show them to me.)
There are, however, parts that I can relate to very strongly. For instance, one of Lady Bird’s main motivations is her desire to leave Sacramento behind for something greater. As someone who has left their entire country behind, I know how that feels. That something as mundane as geography can hold you back is frustrating.
But also, if and once you get to leave home behind and go to your dream place, things might not be as amazing as you thought they would be. Maybe the change is too drastic. Maybe you’re underwhelmed. Maybe you’re overwhelmed. Whichever it is, you just end up having to suck it up and deal with it. After all, that was your dream, right?
Furthermore, what do you do when your dreams clash with dreams others might have about you? More specifically, your parents. How do you deal with that? You can’t just leave them behind, can you? Maybe it would be easier for everyone involved, but family is not that easy to leave behind.
The reason, I think, why I liked Lady Bird so much is because I could see myself in it. Despite being 24 now, I struggle with some of Lady Bird’s troubles today. And it was good to see someone else go through my problems, because then I get to see how they solve them. Even if they can’t solve them, I still get to see how they react to them.
A good coming-of-age story ends up being relevant, regardless of how old you are. In that sense, I feel like Lady Bird is going to stay fresh for a very long time and I’m glad for that.