"Because of Sacramento”
A Review of "Lady Bird" by Nathan H. Box
Director: Greta Gerwig, Writer: Greta Gerwig, Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Odeya Rush, Timothee Chalamet
Rating: 5 Stars, SHOWTIME
In the early 2000s, an artistically-inclined seventeen-year-old comes of age in Sacramento, California.
William Faulkner was a Nobel Prize laureate from Oxford, Mississippi. To read his work is to read a man in contention with the place he calls home. On one hand, it is the anthesis of everything he believes. On the other hand, it is his muse; his greatest source of inspiration. In “Lady Bird,” we meet a teenage woman on the cusp of greatness all because of the push and pull of the place she calls home, Sacramento, California. Much like Faulkner, she finds herself both inspired and bored by her surroundings. This film serves as her roadmap to self-discovery. The journey becomes one of the great movies of the 2017 Oscar season.
Bless liberal arts kids. They always want to live through something. We seek trial and tribulation hoping it will define our character. We hunt for these challenges in the books we read, stories we consume, people we meet, journeys we take, work we do, and service we provide. In doing so, we hope to understand the human condition and our relationship to it. We need to learn something about ourselves and use it as a means to measure ourselves against the world.
For Lady Bird, her journey of discovery and challenge begins inside the confines of a Catholic high school. She is entering her senior year of high school. A year in which we all apply too much pressure because we feel as if some chapter is closing which can never be opened again. She desperately wants to flee from Sacramento to an East coast college. Here she believes she will finally be allowed to grow and bloom into something original and meaningful. Little does she know but the metamorphosis is already underway.
The first example begins with her first brush with teenage love. Like most things at this age, love is fleeting, heartbreaking, and filled with surprises. We don’t realize it at the time because we are unable to see beyond ourselves but every teenager we know is searching for meaning and hoping to create their best selves. This invites instant connections, sadness, and loyalties that seem to change with the wind. Greta Gerwig, the writer and director of this film, captures this moment in time better than almost any person who has become before her.
The second example focuses on the volatile mother and teenage daughter relationship. At the age of 13, boys look at their fathers and think they know nothing about how the world should or really works. At the age of 13 girls look at their mothers and think the same thing. “Lady Bird” perfectly captures the tug-of-war that exists between mothers and their daughters at this age. As the film rolls forward, we discover Lady Bird and her mother have more in common than we think. We also discover that children can be pretty unforgiving to their parents. We make judgments without any knowledge about their life experiences or the challenges of their living. Here again, our writer/director scores another win for showing us what it is really like to be a modern parent.
In the end, this is a heartwarming, funny, and brutally honest film about one woman’s journey toward becoming the best version of herself. While I think it is wrong to believe Oscar season begins in November and lasts through the releases of January, this is without a doubt one of the best films of the year and deserves some recognition.
Be good to each other,