Lady Bird Is a Story About Flying And Staying
Greta Gerwig, director and screenwriter for Lady Bird – The Time to Fly , described this movie as a love letter to her hometown, Sacramento. And, wisely, there would be no better description for his film. The film is a coming-of-age story that focuses on the transition from adolescence to youth – which makes its location not a background, but a central character in the story.
It is Sacramento who gives the self-titled “Lady Bird” (Saoirse Ronan) a rejection of California and the dream that moves her life: moving to a big metropolis. In the little town is “the wrong side of the rails,” Lady Bird’s pejorative name gives the neighborhood where he lives, since he always reveals the humble origins of his family; and it is Sacramento, too, that provides the provincial and affluent environment that the girl lives, but as an outsider. Primarily, our Lady Bird only exists in Sacramento – outside of it we see the still lost, but more mature, Christine McPherson – the protagonist’s baptismal name.
It may seem as if to say this is to overestimate a city when there are so many important elements that make Lady Bird a unique film, but no, it is only to attach importance to the environment in which one grows and makes decisions: we are not totally molded by the medium, as Lamarck said, but he influences us even to deny everything we have already seen. Those who deny their hometown always take it rooted. It’s like Drummond’s Itabira, which, even though it’s just a picture on the wall, hurts. Lady Bird’s relationship with Sacramento hurts her and makes her grow at the same time.
As a whole, Lady Bird is a film about maturing. The protagonist is not perfect (she is immature and even gives prejudiced comments to her Latin brother), but this does not make the viewer dislike her. Lady Bird is determined, authentic, brave (even in aspects that catch many girls, like taking the initiative with boys) and does everything to get what she wants. It even comes down to crunching silly decisions like “exchanging” the best friend for very different people who do not really accept her. Between stumbles, the girl is growing and realizing what really matters.
Timothée Chalamet, an actor who plays the character Kyle in the film, commented in an interview that Greta Gerwig, for being an actress, was able to insert a comic realism into the story, and that this is done in a natural way. Showing daily dramas, Greta’s direction is safe and leaves the film light, giving Lady Bird an aura of truthfulness – nothing is exaggerated or out of place. When the protagonist loses her virginity to Kyle, who does not even know how many people she’s been with, she suffers as much as when she fights with her mother. They are different sensations, but equally important. There is no above-average romanticizing.
Speaking of mother, Lady Bird’s, played by Laurie Metcalf, is the foot on the floor that the dreamy girl insists on denying. Like so many mothers, she is responsible for bringing the protagonist to the real world, not out of pessimism or lack of love and trust in her daughter, but to prevent her from suffering with frustration. Studying at an expensive Catholic college as a scholarship, Lady Bird has access to dreams and expectations that do not match the socioeconomic reality of her family. But the conflicts make the girl not feel loved or understood by her mother, which leads to more fights and crises: the relationship of the two, between cries and cries, is real and visceral. In the end, none of them is totally right or wrong, and the thoughtful attitudes of the father (Tracy Letts), who tries to balance this relationship, prove this.
“It’s very clear how much you love Sacramento,” says the Catholic college’s mother to the protagonist in a scene after reading her cover letter to colleges. Surprised – since she insists on denying the city – Lady Bird replies, “I just pay attention.” And that’s where Mother translates what was invisible to the girl’s eyes: “But do not you think it’s the same thing?”
Attention as a form of love is a constant that Lady Bird directs to everyone: to the mother, to a romantic target, to the friend, to the Sacrament. It is to herself that she needs to pay more attention, though. The way to find out is the key to this beautiful movie.