Last updateFri, 08 May 2020 6pm


Lady Bird Spreads Its Wings

Lady Bird Spreads WingsJune 23, 2015 was the final obligation of seniors at Steinert High School. It was a scorching hot day as I picked up my friend of ten years, Tom, in my father’s 2000 Buick LeSabre.

Dressed in our Shrek green gowns, we were sweating in bumper to bumper traffic on Hamilton Avenue because the air conditioning and back windows were broken. Today the air conditioning works, but the heat went just in time for winter.

When we entered the cool Sun Center in Trenton, we were directed to our chairs. For the last time, the class of 2015 would be together under the same roof. It was nerve wracking sitting in those chairs because after each speech the end was drawing near.

All the school dances, hanging out with friends, asking the teacher to use the restroom and pasta Thursdays in the cafeteria would all be over. Once our caps were thrown into the air, it was the beginning of a new chapter.

This day serves as a precious moment not only for being with my high school class for one last time, but for the memories that led up to it.

Senior year in particular was a pivotal moment for all students to determine what path to choose after graduation.

These memories rush back while watching a film like Lady Bird, which represents all the peaks and valleys of senior year in high school.

Lady Bird, played by Saoirse Ronan, a senior in a Sacramento Catholic High School, is one of the lesser known people in her class. She wants to go to college on the East Coast, but Lady’s grades, financial situation and mother are obstacles in her way.

As Lady applies for colleges, she gets a role in the school play, falls for a boy and gets involved in other extracurricular activities.

Lady Bird is the definitive coming-of-age feature by capturing all the major events during senior year of high school in genuine fashion.

The film also addresses parental relationships, socio-economic issues and adolescent choices.

We all remember those petty arguments with our parents over doing the dishes or coming home late from jenga night at a friend’s house.

They lasted for a day or so, and in the end, we hugged it out. Lady, on the other hand, honestly feels that her mother hates her.

At seventeen-years-old, the world revolves around you and if Mom tells you to clean your room after the homecoming dance, it’s official: she hates your guts.

Lady is usually arguing with her mother over something, whether it’s after listening to The Grapes of Wrath audiobook cassette or sifting through the stylish outfits at Thrift World.

The High School senior feels that her mother is too controlling, but she doesn’t see her mother’s love through the lectures.

Lady’s mother, Marion, played by Laurie Metcalf, lectures her child because she wants her to reach her full potential. Not everything can be handed to Lady on a silver platter, including a college education on the East Coast.

Usually around November is when college applications are due. Remember the fun of that? Picking the right schools and writing all those essays and checks to College Board for sending SAT scores to colleges; that was a blast.

Lady goes through the same challenges, but she wants to continue her education on the East Coast, despite pushback from her mother.

This will hurt her mother not only in the heart, but wallet as well.

Lady’s mother has picked up two shifts at the hospital because her father, played by Tracy Letts, has lost his job.

This is another example of the mother’s unrecognized love. Not all affection for one’s child is shown through hugs or kisses.

Many children take their parents efforts for granted when it comes to working hard for paying the bills.

If paying your child’s bill for tuition isn’t one of the highest forms of love, I don’t know what else is.

While Lady deals with family and financial issues at home, she also gets involved with the juicy high school drama we all miss.

During play practice, Lady falls for its leading actor, played by Lucas Hedges. The two embark on their puppy love relationship, which has surprising twists.

Meanwhile, Lady begins associating with the cool kids who hang in the parking lot and smoke cigarettes they probably got from the chill gas station employee. Those cool kids are the ones we all loved in high school, who got a BMW for their seventeenth birthday.

To back them up, a $50,000 vehicle was essential to roll up in the Wawa parking lot after school.

Along with the social climate of high school, it navigates through all the important events in a typical school year.

The first day mass, homecoming dance, the play’s opening night, Thanksgiving break and of course, prom.

Ah, the prom was a great time especially when the dude who graduated two years ahead of you was DJing the event. Nothing like shuffling to “Trap Queen” in a tuxedo to send off our last year of high school.

With each event, it’s impressive to see Lady evolve into a young adult. 

These features are expected for a coming-of-age flick, but Lady’s genuine curiosity stands out compared to other films with similar themes.

When she first kisses a boy, Lady runs in the middle of the street, screams to the high heavens and falls to her knees. I had the same reaction when I found out peer leaders got an additional study hall period.

Additionally, as Lady and her friend hang out prior to mass, they are snacking on communion bread like chips. It’s okay though, because the bread hasn’t been blessed yet. The humor sprinkled in these moments make Lady’s experience a sincere portrait of adolescence.

The film’s charming humor and original feeling is accredited to first-time director and screenwriter Greta Gerwig. Gerwig has recently starred in terrific films such as Frances Ha and Mistress America, which she also co-wrote.

The dialogue between high school students, along with children to their parents feels like the camera is rolling through an actual conversation.

Also, the situations are relatable and ones we have all found ourselves in. I mean, haven’t you been at the homecoming dance, swaying closely with your date and a nun approaches you saying, “make room for the Holy Spirit?” Amen to that!

Lady Bird is the definitive coming-of-age film. In today’s cinema, we are lucky to come across some films in the same genre like The Edge of Seventeen, but they don’t portray the same personal touch that Gerwig brings.

Watching this takes me back to June 23, 2015. The sadness of a stage ending, but the excitement for a new one to begin.

While harping on nostalgia, Gerwig successfully makes this a beautiful love letter to mom. Many parents may feel their love goes unrecognized through all the bickering and arguments.

However, once the dust is settled, it’s important for us to be grateful for the things we have and to see love in different ways.

Our parents pour love into their work and lectures to give us a better life.

Lady Bird is not just about reflecting on the angst of high school, but rather recognizing the efforts of our loved ones.

IMAGE TAKEN from Consequence of Sound

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