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‘Lady Bird’ soars, attracting critical acclaim

“Lady Bird,” a coming-of-age film about Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) and her journey through adolescence, re-tells the genre in a way that most do not; with a very fresh perspective. “Lady Bird” has a perfect 100 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, which is an incredible feat on its own, but even better, it holds the record for the most 10 percent ratings of any movie at 186 ratings and counting. This movie is relatable for all people, as adolescence is a universal experience that we all have the opportunity to reflect on, just like Lady Bird herself does over the course of the movie.

In a film very similar to her own life, Greta Gerwig not only directs “Lady Bird,” but makes a work of art channelling many powerful experiences in people’s lives in a short, 94-minute film. Love, heartbreak, family struggles that are both emotional and financial, and the struggle to be accepted are all felt at their deepest level in “Lady Bird.”

Lady Bird’s story is one that many experience: her family is struggling in a post-9/11 United States living in Sacramento, California in 2002. She is entering her senior year in Catholic school and is trying to figure out what she will do after she graduates. Through her college application process, she struggles with discovering who she is through relationships and breakups with two significantly different boys, Danny O’Neill (Lucas Hedges) and Kyle Scheible (Timothée Chalamet). Her relationship with her strong-willed, opinionated mother, Marion McPherson (Laurie Metcalf), is also in dire straits frequently. The two have a hard time agreeing with on any topic, including what is arguably most important to Lady Bird: her future. This goes to the extent that Lady Bird confides in her father that she wants to leave California and go to school on the East Coast. This lack of trust between Lady Bird and her mother leads to issues not only about college, but also about how Lady Bird should live her life in general as her mother is condescending and very critical of any and all actions she takes throughout the film.

There are countless scenes where Lady Bird and Marion mirror each other, indicating that they are in fact very similar, despite their disagreements. In an argument early on, Lady Bird asks Marion if Marion would have preferred her own mother staying out of her business and if she ever crossed the line, as Lady Bird feels Marion is now doing to her. This is a moment where the audience sees what life is like for Marion, who works many extra shifts each week at the psychiatric wing of the hospital and has to support a family in light of her husband, Larry McPherson (Tracy Letts) losing his job. Lady Bird and Marion are also seen driving vehicles in the same parts of Sacramento; the same streets, rivers, landmarks, and other features once again connecting the two in a subtle, artistic way. Gerwig’s directing creates unity and connection between characters who are all very different in their own way, and who even disagree significantly, crafting a reflective, emotional journey for Lady Bird and her family.

The story itself is very compelling and the cast interacts in a dynamic way, but the artistry does not end there. “Lady Bird” is a beautiful film. It has elements of an independent dramedy and moves along like a major feature film in terms of the cast, which includes multiple previous Oscar nominees (Lucas Hedges and Saoirse Ronan), and other potential Oscar nominees (Timothée Chalamet) this upcoming award season. Other potential awards could be for original screenplay and even best picture. “Lady Bird” truly is a work of art.

At the end of the film, Lady Bird finally gets her chance to “leave the nest” of Sacramento, but finds that what she wanted is not what she thought it would be and takes the time to reflect on her decisions and even reaches out to mend relationships back home. At a time when many young people are trying to discover who they are, “Lady Bird” provides an example of self-discovery that is relatable to young audiences and also reflective for audiences past adolescence and looking back at their past.

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