Taking place in her hometown of Sacramento, director Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird,” released on Nov. 3, paints Sacramento beautifully by telling a coming-of-age story that tugs at your heartstrings as you watch Lady Bird struggle with finding her identity. “Lady Bird” is Gerwig’s first feature-length film that she directed solo. The film, loosely based on Gerwig’s life, follows Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, and features aspects of Gerwig’s life of growing up in Sacramento, attending Catholic high school, and moving to New York City for college.
Set between the fall of 2002 and fall of 2003, Lady Bird, portrayed by Saoirse Ronan, and her mother, Marion McPherson, portrayed by Laurie Metcalf, drive home from visiting colleges in the area. As they are driving down backroads of Sacramento County while finishing up an audiobook, the two get into an argument about Lady Bird wanting to get out of Sacramento and go to college in New York City “where there is culture.” After Marion continuously dismisses Lady Bird’s dreams of going to the east coast, Lady Bird opens the car door and throws herself out of the moving vehicle. This dramatic opener assures you that you’re watching a film about life and not a classic teenage movie where she gets everything she wants – including the guy.
From this point on it is clear to see that these two do not have a strong mother-daughter relationship. Besides jumping out of a moving vehicle, another giveaway that their relationship is an everyday battle is Christine wanting to be called by her “given name” Lady Bird because she “gave it to herself.” Throughout the entire movie they are at each other’s throats, whether it be about Lady Bird’s attitude, her choice in colleges, or her embarrassment over the family’s financial situation. With her mother working double shifts as a psychiatric nurse and her father, portrayed by Tracy Letts, recently out of work, Lady Bird will do anything she can to make her peers think she lives in Sacramento’s “Fab 40s.”
Lady Bird is a dynamic character whose youth and unrealistic expectations of life plagues her. She is full of emotion and expresses her opinions loudly without regret.
Throughout the film she seems to become more and more angry with what her life is versus what she so desperately wants it to be. She faces situations that any viewer who has endured high school’s torments can relate to.
Wanting to fit in with the popular crowd to get closer to mysterious rocker Kyle, portrayed by Timothée Chalamet, Lady Bird risks losing her kind-hearted childhood best friend Julia, portrayed by Beanie Feldstein, by befriending the rich it-girl, Jenna, portrayed by Odeya Rush.
Perhaps the most compelling scene in the movie is the closing of the film, which shows Lady Bird and her mother separately driving throughout Sacramento. Although it is simple, for anyone who is from Sacramento this scene is emotional because the shots of the town’s historic landmarks show its true beauty. Throughout the film we follow Lady Bird as she longs for something great in life and with this ending we see that where they’re from dictates the foundation of who someone really is. If you’re a Sacramento native, go and see Gerwig’s beautiful tribute to a city she clearly loves so much.