“Lady Bird” throws back to the era of John Hughes

New indie film feels like the glory days of coming-of-age movies.


Lucy Polyak, Columns Editor

Typically, being bombarded by YouTube ads is not a good way to sell a product to me. However, in the case of Greta Gerwig’s film “Lady Bird,” this was just the right tactic. I went to go see this movie with fairly high expectations because of all the hype that was surrounding it online, and my expectations ended up being beyond surpassed.

“Lady Bird” is the breath of fresh air that modern coming-of-age films need. Its honest portrayal of teenage life at the turn of 21st century felt like nothing I had seen in any movie before. It tackles themes of poverty, self-expression, the LGBTQ community, depression and family relationships without being too dramatic about any of it.

This movie follows the life of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson during her senior year of high school from 2002-2003 in Sacramento, California. Lady Bird is adamant about finding a way to attend college in New York to pursue a life with art and culture despite her family’s financial struggles. She tries out many different versions of herself throughout the year but in the end finds she’s happiest when she’s just being herself with her best friend Julie at her side.

We see Lady Bird fall in love with two boys during the movie, one of whom turns out to be gay and the other turns out to just be a schmuck. Her passion for life and love felt so sincere that I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face the whole movie, whether it be because I was laughing at how hilarious the characters were or because I was feeling less alone because I could relate to how Lady Bird was feeling.

I went to go see this movie with my mom and I ran into about three other mother-daughter pairs in the theater that night. Despite one scene with rather intimate adult content, this is the perfect movie to go see with a parent. “Lady Bird”’s highlighting of what it’s like to be growing up in the 21st century is a perfect way to remind parents that we’re all just human and we all make mistakes along our paths.

““Lady Bird”’s highlighting of what it’s like to be growing up in the 21st century is a perfect way to remind parents that we’re all just human and we all make mistakes along our paths.”

The movie ends with Lady Bird in New York City pursuing her creative dreams while still finding a way to mend her broken relationship with her mother. As I looked over to my own tear-stained mother, I realized how excited this movie made me for the future ahead of me. The story showed a girl who went through what she felt to be her own personal hell but still made it to her perfect ending. Personally, this movie gave me hope that no matter what was going on in my own life there would be light at the end of the tunnel.

The lead in this film was portrayed by Irish actress Saoirse Ronan. Ronan may seem familiar to you as she has been a part of other successful movies such as “Brooklyn” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” within the last few years. Typically, Ronan has a thick Irish accent but she ditched it for this role, opting for a stereotypical American accent straight out of average suburbia. However, had I not known this fact I would have assumed that Ronan was as American as I am.

The dialogue in this movie was fresh and hilarious but still able to make me ugly cry inside of the theater. Each of the character’s individual personalities were developed in ways that gave depth to all of the characters, except for those who were purposefully made to feel one-dimensional. This way, all of the characters were able to remind you of actual people that you grew up with in your hometown.

I honestly have not seen a coming-of-age movie that moved me as much as “Lady Bird” did since I first watched John Hughes’ classics such as “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty in Pink” and “Sixteen Candles.” These movies’ perfected way of telling stories of teenage perseverance seemed to have faded from Hollywood in recent years. “Lady Bird” brought brought back that “good old days” of high school movies feeling for me.

It had real soul without being over-dramatic about it and for that I highly commend director Greta Gerwig. It’s quite easy to go overboard with drama in movies based around high school. Too many characters in movies like this cry when they don’t need to and suddenly everyone’s yelling at each other as if the movie was a soap opera. In “Lady Bird,” the characters all had reactions to real problems that would be found totally normal in actual life.

A lot of love for this movie has been shown on the Internet through social media or other review sources. In fact, “Lady Bird” currently has the highest score per ratings on Rotten Tomatoes of all time. It seems that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can find something to enjoy and connect to in this movie.

“Lady Bird” will be running at FilmScene in Iowa City until Dec. 7, but it is also available for purchase on iTunes. Let me be the first to say that this is most certainly not a movie that you want to skip out on. It’s sure to soon be considered a modern classic.