Monday, November 20, 2017

A Movie I'm Thankful For: LADY BIRD

by Alejandra Gonzalez
Time to fly.

When Patrick asked us which movies we were thankful for, I didn’t think twice about my answer. I’ve had a stubborn and permanent list of favorites for as long as I can remember, and every new movie I love just makes the list longer but never really changes it. On Friday, the impossible happened when I left the theater misty eyed and speechless after having seen Lady Bird on its opening night in Miami, my new favorite movie. I knew it would resonate with me but had no idea it’d feel like Greta Gerwig took a gander at exact moments in my memory and collected them into a beautiful sequence for the entire world to see. I always wondered if watching a perfect movie was something I’d live to achieve, and this week, I am thankful to be able to say that I did.
The movie, at its core, is the coming of age story I wish I could have shown myself at age 17. Now, I find that talking about it without spoiling much is going to be difficult, but I think this is required viewing for every one of every age, so I’ll try. Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is a senior in high school who seems to be unsatisfied with almost every aspect of her life. She hates Sacramento, is embarrassed by her family’s financial situation, and has a turbulent relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) that feels irreparable. Even beyond that, Lady Bird has an undeniable sense of insecurity in who she is and what her future will be, a sensation that is universally relatable no matter who you are. She spends most of the movie trying on different versions of herself like the dresses she shops for at the thrift shop, the only place her family has been able to afford clothes since her father lost his job. At 23, I would be lying if I said I didn’t still feel like that sometimes (most times)(every day).

Lady Bird is so intimately visceral that it forces us to revisit the parts of our adolescence that are so embarrassing or painful that we’ve repressed them. I’ve never had a good relationship with my mom, or with anybody in my family, or even with myself. I’m sure much like many of you, I spent so much of my adolescence plowing through hobbies, groups of friends, and even hair colors like Christine’s in an effort to find my independence and reason for being here. I still do. What’s interesting is that I always felt so alone in that journey and didn’t realize that every single person surrounding me was embarking on their own. I wish I could have told myself that.
As I was watching the movie on Friday, I couldn’t help but think about how strangely specific so many of the conversations Christine was having were, and how the audience kept laughing or nodding together at the same parts as if to say “yeah, I remember having this exact conversation.” It made me realize that so many of the experiences we’ve had, the ones that made us feel the most alone, are ones that everybody has had, making them a little more bearable to remember and go through. I mean, I always knew this, but seeing a huge room of people relating to this amazing girl’s experience put that into a more tangible perspective and still didn’t invalidate what we go through individually. Gerwig effectively makes it so that even watching at 23, or 46, or 68, the concerns and experiences of her Lady Bird are valid and important as opposed to a disposable phase that won’t matter in the grand scheme of her life. That’s what everybody says to us when we’re young: “This won’t even matter later.” But it does to us, in that moment when everything feels like the end of the world and years later when you wouldn’t be YOU had you not gone through it. Every moment meant something to her, even if it’s the few seconds of laughter Lady Bird shares with her best friend when they discover they both use the showerhead’s running water to masturbate.

I think what I enjoyed the most about the movie (besides how insanely funny it was) was that it gave everybody in it their own realities independent of their relationship to the main character. It humanized her mom, showing us what she’s like when she’s alone and not at home taking on the role of mother and wife. It showed us the kinds of problems her father (Tracy Letts) has, and the responsibilities her brother (Jordan Rodrigues) had to adopt as the oldest son in the family. It made every character involved a real human as opposed to an extra. It proved that although Christine felt she was going through things on her own, so did everybody else. Still, it didn’t make any of their concerns or feelings less valid because, while relatable, their experiences were their own and unique to their story.
When I headed to watch Lady Bird, I thought I would be presented with another funny coming of age story about a rebellious daughter and her insufferable mother. What I got was an entire experience of revisiting my own adolescence and being so unbelievably grateful for every stupid little moment I thought would kill me. It made me want to call my own mom, it reminded me that she is a real person with her own real problems that have nothing to do with me. It made me want to turn to my best friend and thank her for listening to me cry at 2 am about some silly boy that didn’t take me to prom. This week I am thankful for my Christine McPherson-esque experiences, I am thankful for the great unifier that is sharing a good movie with strangers, and I am thankful for Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird.

3 comments:

  1. Caught it this weekend and loved it. Laurie Metcalf <333

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  2. Sounds so good. Thank you for the review!

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  3. Great review! I was sort of on the fence about seeing this then I saw Saoirse Ronan on James Corden's late night and listened to her talk about the movie and her character and that convinced me. Now after reading your review, I wanna see it more than ever!

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