Over the past year, Greta Gerwing has had an uneasy track record with me. Before Lady Bird, I last saw her in 20th Century Women where she plays a feminist in a time where that wasn’t culturally acceptable and before that, Jackie, where I honestly couldn’t remember what she did in that film. That’s not to say she isn’t a great actress. She plays her parts excellently, they’re just not my particular cup of tea. Going into Lady Bird, I was very worried that her beliefs would protrude. Thankfully for me, it doesn’t. Well, not that much.
While the synopsis above may seem very run of the mill, I can assure you, it is not what you think. Lady Bird is just a tenneager who goes to a Catholic school who repeatedly hurts the people closest to her for laughs. To its credit, the movie constantly is reminding itself when it goes too deep into the dredges and pulls itself out of that and focuses on what really matters in this movie – relationships.
Once it gets back to those, Lady Bird soars along by finding humor in the chaos of what is the transition from high school to college. There are no holy people in this story, just people trying to find their way amidst the darkness of their depressive lives. Even those whom Lady Bird worships turn out to just be a vessel in which she can experience life, no matter how much that changes her. She just wants to belong with the people who have what she doesn’t.
What sets Lady Bird apart, at least for me, is the relationship between her first boyfriend (that the audience knows of) and what the outcome eventually ends up being. I won’t spoil it, particularly because it’s something that does need to be experienced in order to really feel the impact. All I’ll say is that the outcome of the relationship is treated with honesty and humility that is rarely seen, even in today’s new age of cinema.
The film is far from perfect. There are little inconsistencies that took me out of the film, like the societal issues of 2002-2003 compared to 2017-2018’s existing here and the ending not coming soon enough or being any meaning of satisfying. Although, if Gerwing keeps directing films as heartfelt as this one, she may become one to watch for in the coming years.