What IMDb says: In 2002, an artistically inclined seventeen-year-old girl comes of age in Sacramento, California.
Why I picked it: My mom had time to watch with me today, so I cued up the ultimate Mother/Daughter love story. Plus I remember seeing parallels between this and Uncorked a few days ago, and I was curious to see if those parallels still rang true with a more recent viewing of Lady Bird.
What I liked: I love how Lady Bird is bratty, unlikable, and self-absorbed but in a very believable, and arguably relatable way. This film has a way of shining a light on just how terrible we ALL were at 17. Watching this as an adult, I was simultaneously able to see myself in this character while also knowing that she’s terrible and being her mother would be a pain in the ass. There’s this inexplicable ability to make us sympathize with Lady Bird without necessarily asking us to endorse her usually atrocious behavior.
I also love how this film cleverly uses its supporting cast to provide insight into the primary mother-daughter dynamic. Through most of the story, Lady Bird and her mother are never able to straight up say “hey, I love you and I appreciate you, and I know you’re trying your best.” But yet they sort of have this intrinsic understanding of it anyway. In scenes with her father or her brother’s girlfriend, we get some reflection on how Lady Bird’s mom really IS an amazing person who loves her daughter to the moon and back, she’s just stressed with her own life and sometimes doesn’t know how to express that. There’s also a great scene were Lady Bird’s love interest, Danny, mentions “your mom is crazy” and Lady Bird steps up to say, “no, she just loves me a lot.” The way Lady Bird is constantly fighting with her mother, yet talks very differently about her with other people is such a spot-on reflection of so many family dynamics.
Another favorite moment for me is the subversion of the “rushing to the airport” trope. Usually, this is for romantic couples. Usually, one person is going to leave for a long time, and their partner rushes in at the last moment to explain why they shouldn’t leave because the relationship means too much. I can’t actually recall such an Airport Epiphany happening for any non-romantic relationship in film or tv. Seeing that trope re-purposed to be about a mother and daughter, and seeing a heartbroken Laurie Metcalf fail at pulling it off hit HARD for me.
What I didn’t like: It’s actually hard to think of something, which is puzzling since I don’t remember liking this as much the first time I saw it. While this wasn’t an issue for me this time around, I can definitely see how Lady Bird’s attitude would be off-putting for some people, and you do have to sit through a LOT of Lady Bird being terrible compared to Lady Bird being nice.
Will I watch it again: Probably. I actually liked it significantly more on this viewing compared to in the theater, and I can see it being the kind of thing that gets better the more you watch it.
Who would enjoy it: People who love emotionally fraught yet realistic portrayals of familiar relationships.