…like, a year later, but I finally watched it.
My expectations were super high for “Lady Bird” because the internet loved this movie and because how could all of those award noms be wrong? This was advertise as a story about a strong female character, and I’m definitely here for that. I wanted to like this movie, love this movie, be inspired by this movie. I wanted a fresh story about a young woman going after her dreams and achieving. Just the day before watching it, I texted my girlfriends to say that I wanted to see it “v badly.”
Halfway through the film, I realized I hated it and cringe-watched it to the end. This film is an awkward mix of “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Garden State.” It has the same kitschy vibe and, in “Lady Bird’s” case, it makes it feel too structured. Lady Bird’s reality is so perfectly teenage-early-aughts that I didn’t believe it because it feels completely curated.
Lady Bird is, by far, the least interesting character in the film. Sure, she insists on everyone calling her Lady Bird, but why? Where did the name come from? She had plenty of interesting views that Greta Gerwig (the writer/director) just gave her. I found Lady Bird vapid, shallow, and ungrateful, all the worse because, unlike her popular “friend” Jenna, she has no idea that she is those things. Wouldn’t someone who wants to be called Lady Bird have a strong enough sense of self to not give a shit about the popular kids, and think it’s cool to give a shit about the school’s drama production? I’m officially sick of the trope of the nerdy cool girl ditching her real friend(s), wanting to be popular and liked by everyone, and it being passed off as a “coming of age” story.
I wanted to know so much more about her mother, her adopted brother, the real reason why her brother’s girlfriend lived with them, her sad drama priest, Julie, what happened when Danny came out and so much less about Lady Bird, about whom, as it turns out, there is not much to know.
Lady Bird has no struggle in her life. The actual worst thing in her life is that her mom loves her too much. But Lady Bird hates her mom so much, she throws herself out of a moving vehicle. Why wasn’t that attempted vehicular suicide ever mentioned again? Lady Bird’s mother, a psych nurse, should know a cry for help when she sees one.
Sure, Lady Bird’s family is “poor,” and true poverty can be tough. Unemployment and collective family trauma can be tough. Yet, Lady Bird is so disconnected from her family’s narrative that she, behind her mother’s back, applies for college across the county. Of course, she makes it to college in New York City and that’s where Lady Bird’s final bits of “growing up” happen. The ending is hollow and brief. Ultimately, I felt there is no reason for her to hate or love Sacramento. It was such a huge part of the plot, but with no supporting information about it. We never got a sense of Sacramento beyond the fact that we are told that Lady Bird hates it (and then, also that she loves it).
“Lady Bird” is nothing new. Lady Bird is another manic pixie dream girl, another John Green female supporting character, another hipster claiming originality. “Lady Bird” is another “Girls.” I will allow that if this movie wasn’t so hyped, I might have enjoyed it, but “Lady Bird” is old hat.