“Lady Bird” is a film of surprising human brilliance and humble means.
Set in Sacramento, California, “Lady Bird” follows the story of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a high school senior who is going through the last throes of adolescence before she embarks on her journey to college.
Refusing to use her real name, the self-dubbed Lady Bird is determined to create her own path and to find a way out of Sacramento. Moreover, Lady Bird wants to get away from her overbearing and judgmental mother, a character whose relationship with Lady Bird is the focal point of the story.
In many ways, Lady Bird appears as the typical, rebellious teenage girl. She hates her hometown for its parochial banality, and she longs to move away and attend college somewhere “where culture is.”
The movie starts with Lady Bird throwing herself out of a moving car to avoid hearing her mother’s complaints against her.
As the movie progresses, Lady Bird finds herself straddling and struggling through the problems through which nearly every teenage girl goes. She has her first serious boyfriend, has her heart broken, loses her virginity—in a rather underwhelming way—, betrays a friend and rekindles the same friendship.
As the film approaches its end, Lady Bird is accepted to a college in New York. After a night of heavy drinking, she begins vomiting and is quickly taken to the hospital, where she spends a night to regain her strength.
Upon leaving the hospital the next morning, she discovers that it is Sunday, and she decides to attend a church service. As the choir sings a hymn, something in the character is moved, leading her to leave the church and call her mother.
Only getting the answering machine of her parent’s house, Lady Bird begins referring to herself by her birth name, Christine. In the message, the character admits her enchantment with Sacramento and apologizes for her own shortcomings and failures in the battered and problematic relationship between her and her mother.
The film works as both a coming-of-age story as well as a dark comedy. It is the story of a teenage girl struggling to find herself while often showing that the upsetting nature of reality is sometimes grotesquely funny. The film has more heart than humor, though, and the story always circles back to the world of a teenage girl in an era of transition.
The movie also finds a crucial and beautiful mixture between the ultra-hip and modern and the traditional and old-fashioned. It is a film with a strong, multi-faceted female heroine, yet it is also a work with a heavy bent towards the family and one’s hometown.
“Lady Bird” is currently sitting at a 99% Freshness rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. The movie also holds the distinction of being only one of three films to hold the record of retaining a 100% Freshness rating after one hundred critical reviews.