Written by Aaron Radcliff:
I originally had a long-winded and snarky intro written about how where I live can make reviewing certain movies on time a bit difficult. We’ve heard over the last few weeks all of the praise Lady Bird has gotten, how it’s the new highest rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes, etc. After waiting weeks for it to become available in my area I’ve come to realize that this movie doesn’t deserve my snarky jokes and things of that nature.
It deserves respect.
I suppose I could go ad nauseam about everything we’ve heard a million times already: Greta Gerwig did a masterful job writing and directing, Saoirse Ronan is Best Actress material, the writing is heartfelt, and so on.
One of the things so many people love about cinema is the ability to escape. To see and experience things that they normally wouldn’t. It’s not real life. So why is it the movies that are so grounded in reality that hit us the most? Is it because they’re relatable? Is it because we can try to find answers to the difficult questions we face through the lens of someone who claims to have an answer?
Lady Bird doesn’t have the answers and never does it claim to. What it has is a reflection of the reality that teens and young adults face told in both the rebel heart and desire of youth and the sage wisdom of experience and growth.
School, growing up, going to college, battling our emotional demons, falling in love, exploring our sexuality, forming your own identity, and trying to be and accept the best version of yourself are all things hit on in such an incredibly realistic way and short runtime. Every time the character of Lady Bird thinks she’s found what she wants or has a plan, we move forward in an instant to when things change, just how life can seem to be.
In interviews, Greta Gerwig has stated that Lady Bird is semi-autobiographical but the events depicted never literally happened to her. What was true, however, was the core and meaning behind it all. That’s where Gerwig’s writing shines. Rather than fabricating everything possible to make a story relatable, she simply touched on her experiences and drew from there. It is through that we get the heart of this movie.
While the events may not have happened to Gerwig, they’ve happened to us all. In some way or another, everyone is able to latch onto something to relate to while the characters of Lady Bird and her mother are both their own people and a stand-in for the viewer.
But what truly struck me was the ending. While not getting into too much detail, we see that maybe the things we thought we wanted ultimately may not make us happy. Maybe the things we thought we hated were what gave us our drive for something better or maybe it was the deep-rooted place of joy and belonging we refused to or just weren’t able to recognize. And maybe it’s the experience of it all, rather than the ultimate goal, that gives us that closure and contentment we want.
Maybe I read the ending all wrong, but that’s how I see it and that works for me. At the end of the day, I feel that Gerwig wants us to make our own answers rather than having us cling to the ultimate truth decided by somebody else.
There’s so much I want to say about Lady Bird but I just can’t. If you’ll excuse the cop out answer, it’s just something that needs to be seen and appreciated. The more it’s discussed the more is taken away from the experience.
But I will say this: Lady Bird is like a song. Some songs have bombastic endings and others have a gentle decrescendo. Others, meanwhile, just end on a note. Nothing in particular is special about that note. Sometimes that note is the right way to end a song. That one simple note is enough to bring a whole work together; all the tempos and notes and chaos comes together in that single perfect point.
Lady Bird is that perfect note.
Photo via A24