sal’s review published on Letterboxd:
Last night, right before I went to bed, I passed by my dad in front of a job application and he asked me, in his heavily accented English, "What is a cover letter?" and my heart kind of broke thinking about the dissonance of our lives, him and I. I thought of the times he has called me in the past month while he was at work to ask me why I missed class this morning again and again, and how I hung up, frustratedly screaming about something I couldn't even understand.
My mom recognizes my passion all the time, very silently, as she hears me tip tap downstairs at 3am on my laptop, or when she glances at my phone screen to see it filled with text. She has never said she notices these things directly, but I hear them through my older sister, who has her own credible autobiography of why our parents do this or fear that.
She has been sober and living at home for the past year, and I recall before that time, she was a chaotic wild woman, sexually free, and angry all the time. It wasn't until this past month that I learned she was specifically, at her lowest point, having sex for drugs and doing crystal meth at the request of her abusive boyfriend. Throughout all this chaos, my father never slept thinking of her stumbling on whatever Brooklyn street at odd hours, and my mother very loudly, in her own way, wishing and praying she would come home for dinner, or maybe even come home for good.
Prayer is controversial in the wake of staggering events that have shattered our hopes for a better world. I think prayer is something we all find ways to do. My family has always been one to believe in the faith of God, with me personally stumbling around impassioned for something more, always asking more, and finding scraps of more. The faith of my parent's paid off, but not after years of turmoil and pain. My sister has come to accept God fully, and shockingly has lived an opposite life ever since.
But I saw slivers of that wild passion and compassion through even the darker years of accepting how I didn't know her. I recall her talking to me, me, under the covers, her fully dressed in her liberated lifestyle regalia, talking to the air with her lipstick lips about how her friends made fun of God and faith. She remembers very starkly defending it, citing her parents, our parents. It's something that I have struggled to confront over the years.
Why is Lady Bird exactly the way my life went and still goes in this past year? As a child of immigrants who only passionately want the best for me, but cannot understand fully, what the stakes are, I think that this is the only difference I see in the family depicted in this film. I wanted to be away from home, I wanted to be in a city and to surround myself with interesting people and things. I want to know the world I am so adamantly convinced is promised to me. To see parents as an obstacle but a source of strength and love, and best interests that clash, is what I see when I watch Christine fight with her mom and say regrettable things while also defending her without knowledge of why when other people reduce her mother to something that she intimately isn't. I lost the fight of choosing where I would go to college. I still live at home, but the divide of choice in my future runs a crack between me and my parents.
My father has his problems that he wishes to defend from his daughters from finding out. He has issues with being honest with me and comes off to me like a stoic head of household figure. A few weeks ago, he has allowed himself to open up to my older sister about the obvious crack in my relationship with him and my mother. While everyone else in the house was asleep, my sister leaned forward from her perch in our dimly lit kitchen, and my dad said, in conversation with her, "I did your sister wrong." And I immediately began to weep unexpectedly. This coded way of saying, "I am sorry, I understand you, and I want you to have what you want," was too much for my body to handle. The foundational way we are tied to our parents can handle my wild passion for more and more and more.
I cried at this ending. I cried at the way Christine looks at things in New York and her yelling at Bruce in front of people who could never understand this intimate artifact of her home in Sacramento. I could not stop crying after I left the theater, and in the interest of the friends who do not know how to handle a crying version of me, I stopped. But I have thought about this film every day, and every day I shed a little tear. Lady Bird sees me, chaotic and passionate, and gave me a sliver of hope that next year, when I transfer colleges, it will be better, and I will find many other ways to love my parents out in the world.
Greta Gerwig, I knew you would fuck me up.