The universe was truly at work when my usual staff meeting was canceled the night of March 6. Thanks to a collaboration between CAB and the GC Women’s Center, this meant that instead of sitting around a table with an agenda as I do most Tuesdays, I found myself in Magnolia Ballroom with a plate of Chicken Minis and a Diet Coke as I prepared to finally uncover the great mystery that was “Lady Bird” as the clock approached 7:30 p.m.
“We really wanted to kick off Women’s History Month with a bang,” said Kat Sellars, program assistant of the Women’s Center. “We picked ‘Lady Bird’ because it was an independent film that highlights the trials of a relationship between a mother and daughter, and a teenage girl struggling to find her identity.”
As the opening montage begins, Saorise Ronan, who plays Lady Bird says, “I wish I could live through something.”
The year is 2002, and she lives in Sacramento, CA, which she thinks is the dullest city imaginable. Lady Bird longs for the east coast, a place she believes real culture thrives.
Her given name is Catherine, but she tries her absolute hardest, despite resistance from her family and the school administration, to be called Lady Bird in all circumstances.
The film follows Lady Bird through her last year of high school. We see Lady Bird experience her first boyfriend, the school play and the dreaded college search process while navigating her own sense of self in the world and her role within her family.
What I was not prepared for were the ways in which “Lady Bird” struck a particular cord. As a graduate of an all-girls, Episcopal high school, the scenes of Lady Bird attending Catholic school and chapel and pushing the boundaries of her uniform felt all too familiar.
Seeing the film as a senior in college, I was reminded of how those daily routines of high school, public or private, feel so permanent at the time. Lady Bird feels stuck in her daily routine. This is why the idea of living through something, anything, is so enticing.
One of the funniest, though irreverent, scenes is of Lady Bird and her best friend Julie lying on the ground snacking on communion wafers like they’re Cheetos. They defend themselves to their disapproving classmates by saying that the wafers haven’t been blessed yet, so their actions can’t be too blasphemous.
The beauty of Lady Bird is that the most poignant moments are found in the absolutely mundane. In a rare calm scene between Lady Bird and her mother, they set out to do their favorite Sunday activity. The viewer is left to guess what this activity could be until the two women walk into an open house in an affluent neighborhood.
By now, we know that Lady Bird and her mother cannot afford these homes, yet we watch as they walk through with gleaming smiles. It is one of their last moments of harmony before Lady Bird decides to strike out on her own.
At the root of the film is this relationship between a mother and a daughter. Lady Bird and her mother, played by Laurie Metcalf, struggle from the beginning of the film until the credits roll. The tension between Lady Bird’s longing for independence and her mother’s insecurities is one that feels both truthfully acted and deeply personal.
“I thought the movie was a great representation of how tumultuous teen years can be, as well as how a family can be affected by these years,” said sophomore Catherine Maloney, an English and liberal studies major.
The one aspect of the film that caused me grief occurs about halfway through the story. Lady Bird, much to my surprise, goes all Cady Heron from “Mean Girls” on her best friend Julie. I was frustrated that an otherwise outside-of-the-box film took such a stereotypical turn as Lady Bird leaves her real best friend in search of the ever elusive promise of popularity. I expected more from the film in that respect.
However, the best moments of “Lady Bird” are still the unexpected, untraditional moments. Lady Bird wishes she could live through something, and the question the film attempts to answer is how we define that “something.” We learn that something does not have to be a war or a revolution. We all live through “something” of our own definition every single day.
“These themes are subtle and done in a way that provide an in-depth look at what could perceivably be the struggle of a real life individual,” said sophomore Aaron Bellamy. “[Lady Bird is] a wonderful movie for anyone looking for something to think about.”