When you’re in your late teens, it’s easy to think you’ll be the same person for the rest of your life— for better or worse. This embodies Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson’s 2002 senior year in Sacramento, which brings her strife and frustration. Christine (Saoirse Ronan) is both strong-willed and unsure; while she knows what she wants, she ends up disappointed or wronged whenever her dreams come into fruition.
Like many women her age, Christine is bored with her stifling environment and makes her choices based on what will make her feel something. Through challenges with her strong-willed mother (Laurie Metcalf), financial burden, and deceptive relationships, Christine realizes that she doesn’t have it all figured out yet, and that’s more than okay: it’s a blessing.
With immaculate pacing and witty one-liners, “Lady Bird” strikes an emotional chord without preaching or being sappy. Ronan and Metcalf’s performances capture the emotion in both the mundane and the hysterical of everyday interactions, whether crying to books on tape together or ducking out of a moving car.
The breakout member of the cast, however, is Beanie Feldstein, who plays Christine’s best friend, Julie. Feldstein, who isn’t unfamiliar with Hollywood as Jonah Hill’s sister, departs from her frequent “party girl” characters for a subdued and tender performance, putting her on the map for more serious roles.
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut triumphs, putting a comforting perspective on unnerving events in which Christine feels like her life is falling apart. This greatly affected me; my first semester of college has at times felt tumultuous and out of my control, a feeling I’m unaccustomed to and scared by.
With Gerwig’s calm air, any college girl can take solace that rude awakenings are not the end of the world but future stories.