Fleabag’s review published on Letterboxd:
So this review will be immensely different from anything I’ve ever posted on any of my social networking platforms. I would have never imagined that a film would compel me to write something along the lines of this but here I am. If you would like to just read the review itself you can scroll down and there will be a break signifying the start of the review section. The first part is simply just personal stuff I found that related to the film and I felt the need to express. So here is my attempt in trying to convey how exactly I feel about Lady Bird. Thanks to all who read.
Personal account: To be quite honest I am the least personal person I know. I do not like detailing my life in any way, for I believe it presents vulnerability and I am not a person who likes to be vulnerable. In fact I just got points off an APA essay because we were asked to include personal accounts in our case study and I simply decided to not do it because I just do not like talking about my personal life. I prefer being mysterious or being closed off. Here and there I will tweet some personal things but I think most of my friends whether it be on social media or in my personal life will notice they actually do not truly know about me. I bottle everything up and try to keep everything to myself unless I am close to a person. Well Lady Bird has managed to somehow make me feel the need to share a big part of my personal life.
I moved to Texas with my parents when I was about 4. Growing up in Texas for me at least has been quite an experience. Texas is known for being one of the most conservative and Christian states in the United States. Christians make up 77% of the population of Texas (www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/state/texas/). That means that nearly every corner you go to in Texas, you will find a Christian (trust me I would know). With that being said I grew up in Texas with a catholic mother. Fortunately I grew up in Houston which is easily the most liberal city in Texas and undoubtedly the best. My mother first started with Catholicism and in my early childhood I began going to church with her. Me being young and naïve I did not know what exactly to make of religion but I simply went because my mother insisted I should. I believed in god because my mother said I should. I prayed and at that time I was a happy Christian. Fast forward years later, I am in middle school and I had moved to a new school. I was an angsty teen simply trying to fit in and be accepted by my peers. Well around this time my mother contracted a terminal illness. During this time I became my support for my mother since my dad was always at work. Days in and out of the hospital as more news on her condition unraveled was truly depressing. I had to come to terms with the fact that there was a possibility that my mom was going to die. For a teen in middle school with a lot to endure on his plate that idea became a terrifying reality. Luckily my mom survived and she got better, but something in her changed. She was no longer the mother she once was. After nearly losing her life she began to form a new obsession almost. She was a renowned Christian, no longer being devoted to Catholicism. In her recovery I went with my mother looking for new church homes and different forms of Christianity that were most suitable. From Methodist to Pentecostal we went to them all. I was completely uninterested in this religious expedition but I simply tagged along because I love my mom. Although there were certain aspects my mom loved about each church none were exactly what she wanted until we found the denomination of Christianity that would forever change everything.
Baptist was the denomination my mom became completely engrossed in, she almost fell into its arms. My mother would go to church every single Sunday and even every Wednesday. My siblings and I of course were forced to attend alongside her. Not going to church was completely unrealistic in my household you had to and my mom would not allow otherwise. She wanted us to follow in “gods light” toward virtue and be the best we could be. To contrast this, the more I learned about Christianity the more I began to resent it. It got to a point where I ultimately decided Christianity was not meant for me. By the end of middle school my mom continuously tried to convince me to get baptized, in which I constantly rejected the idea. I became more and more rebellious and began to resent my mother. Her stubborn attitude and constant need to make me conform to what she wanted me to be drove me insane. I would sneak out with friends without telling her and began skipping church and I became a bit of a troublemaker. We argued nearly every day and each argument always ended the same. By the time I reached high school my resentment and rejection of her became more evident than it ever was. I hated my mother. This all built up to a boiling point that would soon erupt. One day she asked me to go to church to which I strongly said “no.”, her response being along the lines of “excuse me?” it was a moment I will always remember. I told her “I am never going to church as long as I live.” She did not take that lightly and what happened after that is something I would rather not speak about but in that moment I decided I truly hated my mom. She was not my mom. I did not know who she was but I knew she was not my mother. I started to push myself harder so I could achieve my goals. I wanted to go to Harvard and leave behind my life and forget that part of me. I would pretend it never happened, it was just one big nightmare and things would get better. Unfortunately I did not achieve those goals and ended up beginning my college life at a Christian private school. I absolutely hated the school and I genuinely have no idea what I was thinking. Religious institutions are quite awful and I really do not understand why it would be necessary on a college campus but to each their own I suppose. Going to chapel was truly so draining and so inconvenient and continuously hearing Christians spew the same rhetoric in defense of their ridiculous views was…tiring to say the least. All I want is to be at a liberal arts school in NY. Well, “what does all of this have to do with Lady Bird?” You might ask. Mostly a bit of context but it will make sense in the end of this review.
*REVIEW BEGINS HERE*
Here I am today, still a college student in the process of looking for the right college for me. I decided that today I should skip my gender studies class and go watch Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. Quite honestly I was already extremely excited for this film and I knew it would be one of my favorite films of the year. I also love Greta Gerwig! From the moment I saw her performances in Frances Ha and 20th Century Women I knew she would be the next big thing in cinema. But what I was not expecting was for her to create a film as remarkable as this. This is a film that I will think about for the rest of my life.
Lady Bird follows the story of high school senior Christine (Saoirse Ronan) who goes by the moniker “Lady Bird”. She attends a catholic school in California and seeks to go to a “liberal east coast school”. She wants nothing more but to move on and leave behind the life she lives except there is someone standing in her way; her mother. Lady Bird’s mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf) is a judgmental and often controlling mother who wants nothing but the best for her daughter but in a way that is completely opposite of that of what Lady Bird wants. This is the premise for what plays out to be a cinematic revelation like no other.
Technically speaking, Lady Bird is a genuine masterwork. The cinematography in this film is genuinely so beautiful and ultimately mesmerizing. The shots always manage to be captivating or completely mystifying. The costume design and modern look of the film works in its favor. The soundtrack is simply magnificent. The films soundtrack and visual mechanics work so eloquently in creating a completely visceral experience. Greta Gerwig is the driving force of what makes Lady Bird such a fantastic work of cinema. Greta Gerwig puts her heart and soul into this film and the resulting product feels like what could be the creation of a master of cinema. Greta’s direction is calculated, whimsical, and efficient in every regard. The script/dialogue of the film is so well done. Every single aspect of this film is done to the utmost of perfection. If I made a film this pristine I would simply retire afterward and say “my job here is done”.
In terms of performances these are not only some of my favorite performances of the year but everyone across the board is at their A game. These performances never feel like performances, they feel like real people. People you might have met or even know, they all seem a bit too familiar or realistic. Marion literally reminds me of my mother and much of her dialogue sounds like things my mother would say. I honestly hope Laurie gets an Oscar nomination for her performance because she is simply spellbinding in her role. Lucas Hedges (who I honestly loved in Manchester by the Sea) is amazing in all of his scenes yet again. I can honestly see him having a bright future in film. All of the cast members as I stated are great no one really diminishes the experience of the film. But Saoirse blows it out of the park. Her performance of Lady Bird is simply otherworldly. I would say this is undoubtedly the best female performance of the year. Saoirse brings so much life and female prowess to a character who is a bit too familiar. Lady Bird is stubborn, annoying, clever, quirky, and witty. She is that one girl in high school. Her choral pink hair and bizarre moniker emulating what exactly makes her so different from her peers. I honestly relate to Lady Bird on a personal level. She hates where she is and wants nothing but to get away from it. She goes through heartbreak, her first romance, loses her best friend, makes mistakes, and bickers with her mother sporadically. She feels like a real girl coming to terms with womanhood and preparing for what is next to come in her life. The way that Saoirse brings this character to life in itself is worthy of an Oscar nomination. From her mannerisms to the mere emotion and personality she brings to this film, it’s outstanding. Lady Bird is the nucleus of this film and Saoirse gives her a deservingly extraordinary performance.
Earlier I detailed my own experience with religion and my own mother, which both seem a bit too similar to what ensues in this film. But what was the relevance? What does all of this mean? Well here I am today still looking for the right college for me and to see something so explicitly close to my own life experience is quite soulfully challenging. Lady Bird has something to say to young people like its protagonist and like myself. As the film begins to reach its closing that is when I began to weep and the revelation of the significance of this film surfaced for me; have hope. We are all going to make mistakes and encounter our own troubles. Things can only get better before they get worse. Your past is a part of you and you never know, it might even come back in ways you never imagined and bewilder you. I do not want to spoil the film but this is what I got from the films finale. The film ends on a “whatever hardship you face it’s not the end” type of message. It’s a hopeful and beautiful message that Gerwig exemplifies perfectly. It gave me the courage to call my mom and tell her “I love you”, something I never tell her. If Lady Bird had handled things with her mother differently and Marion tried understanding and accepting her daughter things would not have went the way they did. It is the lack of communication and misunderstanding between these characters that creates the tension between them leading up to its finale. If I just learned to deal with my mom’s religious beliefs and she learned to understand me at that time of our mutual resentment then maybe things would not have went the way they did. From those moments that went from a regular conversation to a heated argument to Christine having her heart broken, all of it was moments I’ve lived through and know all too well. Lady Bird is a complex and warm coming of age film that manages to be a holistic view of teens in America, especially that of young women. It has things to say that those of my age demographic need to hear especially as they head into college. This is a film that a large amount of people will hold close to their heart. The film also has a lot to say about family, religion, communication, sex, youth, the want for more, love, relationships, freedom, and mostly mother-daughter relationships.
After Lady Bird finished I felt like something in me changed; I strongly believe this was a soul changing experience. Its films like these that make me happy that I have such an immense adoration for the art of cinema. Like La La Land last year, I believe Lady Bird will be a calling to the “fools who dream”. This is a film that does everything perfectly and then some, it’s easily one of the best films I have ever seen and I will definitely be rooting for it at the Oscars. Lady Bird is a work of cinema that must be seen, it demands to be seen. Boasting charming and emotionally complex performances, an exceptional soundtrack, gorgeous cinematography, and a variety of important themes; Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is a testament to what cinema is capable of - My mother and I talking on the phone and her saying “I love you too sweetie and I am so proud of where you are, and I can’t wait to see you continue to achieve and be the best that you can be”. It was the most redeeming feeling to hear my mother say that. Thank you Greta Gerwig, for giving us Lady Bird, for giving me Lady Bird.