The Torch

“Lady Bird”

The Never-ending Journey to Becoming Uncallow

Kyla Giffin, Editor-in-Chief

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Anyone who has vacationed understands the damp feeling of packing up your luggage while looking out the hotel window at a foreign view, then shuffling out from the hotel to return home, leaving behind an adventure.

And so, as “Lady Bird,” written and directed by Greta Gerwig, begins playing, the audience resonates with Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saorise Ronan) as she departs from a hotel alongside her mother, Marion McPherson (Laurie Metcalf), with a visible tinge of regret. And as the two of them transition from being enveloped in a loving and cheerful atmosphere into an angry and bitter one, many viewers can also understand the tough mother-daughter bond.

However, when Lady Bird expresses her hatred of boring Sacramento and her desire to move out East, followed by insults from her mother, she tosses herself out of the moving car out of frustration, and we get a glimpse into the conflicted essence of this high school senior that is not as easy to relate to. But perhaps that is what makes this film so special.

With the progression of the film, we learn more about Lady Bird’s small life, as she sees it to be: she attends a Catholic school; she has a best friend, Julie (Beanie Feldstein); she has poor taste in boys; she often betrays her true character in her struggle for freedom; and she lives on the “wrong side of the tracks” with her mother, father, Larry McPherson (Tracy Letts), adopted brother, Miguel McPherson (Jordan Rodrigues), and Miguel’s girlfriend, Shelly (Marielle Scott).

While Lady Bird’s friendships, relationships, and East Coast college applications are heavily highlighted, the main conflict of the movie is Lady Bird’s relationship with her mother, who is just as strong-minded and unfiltered as she is. Despite the struggles between the two of them, there is always love. Which is not to say that love can overcome anything—communication, a skill the two of them lack between themselves for much of the movie, is necessary. However, that is part of how both Lady Bird and her mother must grow.

Lady Bird, whose nickname “was given to [her] by [her],” very easily strikes the audience as being angsty, adventurous, and even ungrateful at times. But her harshest moments are offset by the moments in which she displays her big heart and loyalty to her friends and family.

Saorise Ronan starring as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson
Credit: vimeo.com

Such a contrast is confusing to viewers, as people prefer to see patterns, especially in a person’s character. However, there is a subtle authenticity to Lady Bird’s back-and-forth, to her hidden love for a home and a people she tries to hate. Because the only reason we crave patterns is because they don’t exist so simply in real life. Our own selves are constantly changing, growing, jumping to and fro, depending on the moment. And because of how Greta Gerwig, through Lady Bird, shows this honest vulnerability and variations, the protagonist is simultaneously the easiest and the most difficult character to admire and relate to—she is all that we are, but don’t want to admit to being.

Lady Bird’s mission is simple: to grow wings, or perhaps to grow feathers for her wings. But while she thinks her toughest obstacle is to become unrooted, it is actually to balance the presence of her roots and wings. In my opinion, the most powerful moment in “Lady Bird” is when a nun at Lady Bird’s school, Sister Sarah Joan (Lois Smith), points out that Lady Bird “[wrote] about Sacramento so affectionately, and with such care.” When Lady Bird is shocked at this, for she has been adamant about hating Sacramento, and says that perhaps she pays attention, Sister Sarah replies, “Don’t you think they are the same thing? Love and attention?”

And this, the realization of love that allows you to be rooted and free at the same time, is really the underlying theme of the movie. But it is not easily done. For at the end of “Lady Bird,” when our protagonist arrives in New York, she gets alcohol poisoning, and wakes up the next morning to attend a nearby church, old mascara still staining her cheeks. And in her final scene, she calls her mother outside the church to make amends, leaving a heartfelt voicemail.

As we create ourselves, we must remember the place, the people, and the lives that created us. To love all we were and all we are and all that we will become is the key to this never-ending journey to become uncallow, which Greta Gerwig has so artistically demonstrated.

“Lady Bird” is more than a coming-of-age story. It is a story of how we never stop coming of age. It sure didn’t receive a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes for nothing.

Header credit: vimeo.com

About the Writer
Kyla Giffin, Editor-in-Chief
Kyla Giffin (grade 11) is a scholar-athlete in her second year of Journalism. Beginning as the Cowboy Life Editor her sophomore year, she worked her way up to Editor-in-Chief of the newly named The Torch. Kyla is also the Founder and President of a positive difference club on campus: the Movers and Shakers Society. She began...
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