The Ingenuity of 'Lady Bird'

Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut film Lady Bird (2017) follows 17-year-old Christine McPherson, who goes by the name Lady Bird (“It’s given to me, by me,” she says) through her senior year of high school. Saoirse Ronan, playing the titular role, captures the essence of being an eccentric teenager trying her best to get out her early-2000s Sacramento neighborhood to become a writer in New York City. But not before she deals with the quintessential realities of teenage-hood: insecurities, mother-daughter drama and FAFSA.

Back in November, Lady Bird became the best-reviewed movie of all time on Rotten Tomatoes, beating out Toy Story 2, the previous recorder holder of having the most critic reviews of 100 percent. Since then, out of 198 critics' reviews, it has received one rotten review of a C+ from Cole Smithey. Bye Cole, no one asked you!

The ingenuity of Lady Bird in the realm of coming-of-age films is that it does not over-sensationalize plot points, instead allowing protagonist Christine to do so herself — like any teenager would. For example, when she finds her then-boyfriend making out with another male friend in a diner bathroom, Gerwig doesn’t dramatize the shot with a slow-motion reaction from Christine while playing "Crash Into You" by the Dave Matthews Band in the backtrack. Instead, Gerwig cuts to Christine and her best friend Julie crying in the car with “Crash Into You” blasting on the stereo. The brilliance of Gerwig is her ability to differentiate what something feels like from what it actually is.

The film also captures Christine and her mother's relationship in an authentic way — one that is rarely done on-screen. Christine’s begrudging disassociation from her home life in response to her mother Marion’s brash disapproval of her endeavors is a battle that shapes much of the plot.

At the beginning of Lady Bird, you might think it’s a typical coming-of-age teen rom-com, but it’s not. It’s so much more than that, from the hilarious script to the on-point acting. It's still a love story, but one between Lady Bird and the women in her life who help her grow into the person she becomes. Gerwig does an exceptional job painting a world full of authentic, nuanced characters.

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