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  • Writer's pictureRua Fay

"Lady Bird:" A Movie for the Mothers and Daughters of the World

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

It's been nearly six years since Greta Gerwig's smash hit, Lady Bird hit theaters. For thousands of women across the world, the film was an amazing, earnest reflection of their lives as teenagers, and their relationships with their mothers. Since Gerwig's Barbie is easily the most anticipated film of the year and will be coming out in less than two weeks, now is the time to look back on the film that catapulted Gerwig's career as a director, and showed the world her astonishing writing skills.

Lady Bird is a technically proficient film from an objective standpoint. It features great production design, costumes, performances, and music, but where the film really shines is in its most subjective feat, the writing. Lady Bird is not only an exceptionally funny film at times, but it's also heartfelt, emotionally complicated, and uniquely relatable to any woman who has ever been a mother or daughter in their lives.

Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird follows the character, Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson as she navigates her last few months of Catholic high school in 2002. It also heavily centers around her relationship with her best friend, boyfriends, and especially her mother, Marion. The characters of Christine and Marion are brilliantly brought to life by Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf, and their impeccable on-screen chemistry adds so much to the humble, realistic feel of the film. Together, they portray some of the most complex characters to ever hit the big screen.

Christine McPherson is simultaneously average and also not at all. She doesn't have any solid plans for her life and perfectly exemplifies a teenage girl who has no idea what she's doing. She's a theater kid with average grades, a shoddy dye-job, a closeted gay boyfriend, no sense of personal style or concern for what others think. But the most compelling thing about Christine is her relationshiop with her mother. Christine and Marion have a relationship that may seem tumultuous and harsh on the surface, after all, the movie's first scene is an argument between the two that ends in Christine jumping out of a car, but there's so much more to their relationship than that. It's very common for young girls to develop a strained, and at times difficult relationship with their mothers. Whether that's due to concern from the mother or rebeling from the daughter is a case-by-case factor, but luckily most people grow out of this. Lady Bird is a perfect example of the strain that being a teenager can put on a mother-daughter relationship. When you're a teenage girl, your relationship and attitude towards your mother fluctuates on a day-to-day basis. An argument could easily be followed by a movie night on the couch, an argumentative trip to the grocery store could turn into mother-daughter pedicures the next day. When you're a teenager, your mom can be your best friend one day and your greatest enemy the next, it's something you can only truly understand if you've experienced it firsthand. Never before has a film exemplified that as perfectly as Lady Bird.

I am being 100% serious when I say that no other scene in cinematic history has accurately represented a mother-daughter relationship like the thrift store scene from Lady Bird. I still remember just how pleasantly shocked I was when I first saw it in theaters. Christine and Marion are having a petty, passive-aggressive argument that is immediately interrupted by appreciation and love as soon as Marion pulls out a dress.

"You are so infuriating."

"Stop yelling."

"I'm not yelling - oh it's perfect!"

"Do you love it?"

I promise you that every young woman on Earth has had a similar experience with her mother in a clothing store. This exact situation has probably happened to me dozens and dozens of times, and finally seeing it on film made me instantly think: "Oh, Greta Gerwig gets it."

Marion and Christine clearly have a very strained relationship throughout Lady Bird, but while there might be conflict, there is still a palpable amount of love. Marion often comes across as very strict and unforgiving but for the mothers and daughters of the world watching, it's clear that she deeply cares for her daughter, regardless of how she shows it. She openly expresses that she doesn't believe Christine has good enough grades to get into a school in New York, and when Christine declares that she will one day write a check for "a lot of money" so she never has to speak to her mother again, Marion simply replies: "Well, I highly doubt that you will be able to get a job good enough to do that." Yes, there is tension, and yes there is difficulty, but deep down, Marion's top priority is making sure that her daughter leads a decent and safe life. The McPherson family is a household that struggles financially, so while Christine may dream, Marion knows that her family simply can't afford to dwell in fantasy.

Towards the end of the film, Marion refuses to speak to Christine after learning that she has commited to a college in New York without her knowledge, all while Christine pleads for her mother to talk to her, following her around the kitchen while her mother ignores her and does chores. While this could be interpreted as someone who's upset that their child didn't ask for permission, it's once again, deeper than that. In this scene, Marion is heartbroken that she basically got no say in her child's future, but also that her only daughter will soon be on the other side of the country, where there will be no one to protect her or keep her grounded like she has spent all these years doing. When it's finally time to drop Christine off at the airport, Marion refuses to even step out of the car, which again, isn't because of apathy, it's because of heartbreak.

Although Lady Bird has no shortage of contentious scenes between the two lead characters, it also features some that show the more gentle and loving side of a mother-daughter relationship. When Christine clearly had a bad experience losing her virginity, Marion could sense something was wrong and was there to hold her while she cried. In a moment of extreme weakness, Christine leaned on her mother, and her mother was there.

During the scene where Marion refuses to speak to her daughter in the kitchen scene, Christine begs and pleads for her to talk to her, confessing all of her selfishness and mistakes, "I appreciate everything you've done for me, I'm ungrateful, and I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry I wanted more...I know, I'm so bad, I know I am, but please just talk to me mom." While Christine may put on a display that one day she wants to never speak to her mother again one day, she clearly needs and loves her mother and wants to have a lasting relationship with her. It's something that all young women can relate to, simultaneously loving your mother while also feeling a sort of superficial, guilt-inducing hatred from time to time.

Over the course of the film, it becomes abundantly clear that Marion needs Christine just as much as Christine needs Marion. After not getting out of the car to say goodbye to her daughter at the airport, Marion spends the long drive home in tears, and when Christine wakes up from her first bad hangover at college, she attends a church service and makes a phone call. Returning to the two things that remind her most of home, church, and her mother. The film ends with Christine leaving a heartfelt voicemail for her mother, followed by a calm, deep breath. While it's a divisive ending for audience members, I love it. A film ending in the middle of a breath signifies that even after the exhale is finished and the screen cuts to black, life goes on. As viewers, we don't know for certain how Christine and Marion's relationship is going to evolve or heal but we know that it will continue with love and understanding, no matter how those sentiments are conveyed.

Lady Bird will always hold a special place in not only my heart, but the hearts of thousands of mothers and daughters across the globe. It makes us daughters feel less alone, and less guilty for the occasional frustration or act of rebellion against our mothers. Because no matter how much adversity your relationship may endure, you will always love and need each other, and I cannot thank Greta Gerwig enough for showcasing that on the silver screen.

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Jack Dumfries
Jack Dumfries
Jul 29, 2023
If you are looking for an option to watch movies on different devices, then I can advise you to convert for Mac. It allows you to convert from dvd to mp4 on mac. I use this very often when I find old DVD
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