By Katherine LeClair
In its debut at the Sewanee Union Theatre last weekend, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird gave audiences a true slice-of-life narrative. These poignant scenes waste no time with fluff and small talk; the bulk of this movie allows actors to show the full range of their skills. As Gerwig’s first fully-scripted film, Lady Bird displays her remarkable talent for writing dialogue and fully shaping her characters.
Lady Bird (Saorise Ronan), a 17-year-old living in the prime year of 2002, feels trapped in her hometown of Sacramento, California. This film is dedicated to the suffocating nature of Lady Bird’s household and private Catholic school. Her dissatisfaction characterizes her interactions during her senior year; she sees her place in others’ lives as nothing more than temporary moments, but she tries to make an impact while these moments last.
Like most angsty teens, Lady Bird tries everything she can to avoid becoming like her parents. She joins the theatre club at her school to establish her dedication to the arts and later dates a budding rock star (Timothée Chalamet) who claims to reject his his middle-class status but still takes advantage of his parents’ paychecks.
Throughout this film, Lady Bird’s desire to leave her hometown allows her to be crass and spontaneous, but her worries about money, her means for escaping, keeps her somewhat doubtful. Her mother (Laurie Metcalf) is concerned with nothing more than money and her daughter’s future, but her methods of showing concern make this pair constantly clash.
In the height of this film, Lady Bird shouts to her mother, “I’m gonna get older and make a lot of money and write you a check and never speak to you again.”
Lady Bird’s stubborn desire for success does not match her work ethic, and this conflict drives her actions in this film. In fact, most of these characters are not viewed as exceptional students, or extraordinary parents, but vulnerable people who are prone for misfortune. The average-ness of these characters is what has appealed to many young audience members and has frustrated others.
Despite being nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, Lady Bird came away from the Oscars empty-handed.