Lady Bird: A Millennial's Perspective

Over Thanksgiving break, I saw one of my now-favorite movies, Lady Bird.  Before I even set foot in the theater, I knew this film was something I could get behind: it was written and directed by a woman (Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut), and stars an ensemble of well-regarded actresses, such as Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, and Lois Smith.  At the end of the movie, the credits and the tears both started rolling; down the screen and down my face, respectfully.  Of course, I had to say something about this cinematic masterpiece, and all of the hilarious, beautiful, and relatable messages that are relayed throughout its ninety-three minutes.

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson is a strongly-opinionated high school senior who is fed up with her hometown, curious about sex and relationships, and dabbling in different areas of interest, all while figuring out which college would be best suited for her to pursue her dreams.  On top of that, Lady Bird is trying to maintain a bond with her mother, who is sometimes overbearing, rude, and intense… just like Lady Bird, herself.  In many respects, Lady Bird depicts the average teenager; sometimes she rebels, and other times she conforms.  Sometimes she's extremely selfish, and other times her intentions are so good they're almost flawed.  Quite honestly, I was first attracted to this film because Lady Bird reminds me a lot of myself.  There have been times where I've walked to the beat of my own drum, but there have also been times where I've done things simply to fit into a specific mold.  By the time senior year came around, I too was looking forward to moving away from my hometown, scoping out different colleges, and falling for all the wrong people. Also like Lady Bird, my fierce, outspoken nature has gotten me into trouble with people I barely know, as well as people I love deeply.

However, the thing about Lady Bird that I can relate to the most is her modest, middle-class upbringing.  While a lot of teenage comedies are written about people who are raised in lavish homes by their millionaire fathers (take Clueless or 10 Things I Hate About You, for example), Lady Bird tackles a different narrative.  Living in a small Sacramento home with her mother, father, brother, and his girlfriend, Lady Bird’s experience is more comparable to the average teenager.  In one part of the movie, Lady Bird lies to her friend, Jenna, about where she lives, so that she can come across as ultra-rich and elegant.  It's a completely ridiculous scene that is paramount in the lives of teens everywhere.  Many of us have lied about certain things in order to come across as "cooler" or more sophisticated in the eyes of our peers.  Personally, I've led people to believe things about my life that aren't true, simply because I've been embarrassed about certain parts of my upbringing in the past (no, this Aeropostale shirt is NOT a hand-me-down). 

There is another scene where Lady Bird finds out that her father has lost his job and is battling depression, which reminds the audience that parents are real people with actual feelings.  Movies and film generally portray fathers as stoic and emotionless, neglecting to acknowledge the fact that sometimes, the people we view as heroes are also allowed to be vulnerable.  Additionally, the engagements that Lady Bird has with her mother are frighteningly similar to the encounters between real life mothers and daughters.  One moment, they're screaming at one another, and the next moment they're laughing about something that happened in the days prior.  The interactions that Lady Bird has with her parents reminded me a lot of the ones I've had with my parents, especially in middle school and high school.

So, I’d wholeheartedly encourage anyone and everyone to see this film at least once, if not more than once.  It authentically captures the key moments that many of us experience as adolescents, and teaches viewers numerous lessons along the way: people will break your heart, you will always find your way back to your true friends, and sometimes, there’s nothing better than a hug from your mom… even if you piss each other off sometimes.  Also, Dave Matthews provides the ideal soundtrack for a meltdown.

Eventually, you’ll find your way.  Until then, spread your wings and fly, Lady Bird.

Jenna Toth is a second year student at the University of Vermont, majoring in public communication. Jenna is no stranger to the world of writing-- her grandfather, Owen Canfield, is a former sports writer for the Hartford Courant in Connecticut. She considers him one of her biggest inspirations when it comes to writing. During her downtime, Jenna enjoys long walks to the fridge, playing songs on her ukulele, and cuddling with her black lab, Oliver.
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