Coming-of-age: the period of someone’s life when they transition from childhood to adulthood, in which they gain a greater sense of responsibility, maturity and wisdom. From “The Breakfast Club” to “Sixteen Candles” to “Perks of Being a Wallflower” to “Boyhood,” Hollywood has captured this transformation in countless films. Yet, a transition into adulthood for a girl is far different from any experience that a John Hughes movie about skipping school could depict. It’s a whirlwind of emotion and doubt and freedom and love and loss, and no young adult film has truly portrayed the harsh reality of coming-of-age. That is, until “Lady Bird.”
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical 2017 directorial debut, tells the tale of spirited and eccentric Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, played by the spunky Saoirse Ronan. Lady Bird navigates through her senior year of high school, her impending graduation, her desire to leave sleepy Sacramento, her deflowering, and her complicated relationship with her mother, the great Laurie Metcalf.
The magic of “Lady Bird” is accelerated by the fact that her experiences are utterly relatable. The titular character is trying to create a name for herself (literally), while simultaneously trying to figure out who she even is. She learns the importance of friendship and that your true friends love you for who you are, not who you’re trying to be. She discovers what it’s like to fall in love…and then to fall right out of it. She feels that she’s destined to do something great or to be someone great, and the only way to do that is to leave Sacramento. Only, her mother won’t let her.
In fact, the relationship Lady Bird shares with her mother, Marion, is almost too real. Their mother-daughter dynamic is full of passive aggression, and mostly free of affection. Yet, it’s also full of empathy, selflessness and love for everything our moms do for us; you can’t help but want to call your mom once the ending credits roll.
It’s hard to just classify “Lady Bird” as a coming-of-age film, because it transcends all generations and genres. It’s a comedy about high school…but it’s also a drama about a mother and a daughter…and a romance between young lovers…and also a biopic about the creator. It’s impossible to label, much like Lady Bird herself.
“Lady Bird” couldn’t have presented itself at a more perfect time. Although the movie itself is set in 2002-2003, Lady Bird premiered at the height of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the beginning of the burgeoning #MeToo movement. During a time where all hope was lost in the actors and comedians of Hollywood, “Lady Bird” rose from the ashes of this male-dominated entertainment culture as our beacon of hope for a better, more female-driven Hollywood.
The film was written by a woman, directed by a woman, and is led by two of the strongest actresses of our day. It’s the coming-of-age story that women have lived for years, but have never had the opportunity or platform to tell or see. Its importance is resounding. Now, Greta Gerwig is nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and is only the fifth woman in history to be nominated for Best Director.
Rather, as said by the film’s leading bad boy Kyle Scheible, Lady Bird is simply “hella tight.”