Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
Searching for direction and purpose in your life
Verbally hurting those who love you
godless families / living sinful, self-centered lives without hope or true meaning / failing to surrender to Christ and humbly follow and serve Him—and reaping the sad results
Teenage rebellion / bad attitudes and bad behavior / self-centeredness / sinning—embracing sin as being “grown up”—when it is actually a sign of childish immaturity
Arguments between a rebellious daughter and pragmatic and worldly wiser mother (who had an abusive mother)
Committing sins of sexual immorality—losing the last vestige of her sexual purity and virginity
What is SIN? Answer
Lack of fear of the Lord
Being overly self-focused, failing to see or care about the pain and depression of others
Failure to appreciate and honor parents
Teenagers who expect perfection from parents who may be facing their own problems and sometimes floundering themselves in the difficulties, pressures and disappointments of life
Teenagers who over-react to their situation in life and fail to see or appreciate the good things they have and the daily blessings
What is true MATURITY? (It’s not what many teenagers think it is.)
Will moving far away solve most of a teenager’s perceived problems?
Seeking happiness in the wrong places
Raging teenage hormones
Arguments over spending money
Arguments about which college to attend
What results from making strong profanity and vulgarity a major part of one’s daily vocabulary?
Teen and her Dad going behind Mother’s back to make a major decision
Mother feeling betrayed, misunderstood and unloved
Drunkenness and illegal drug use
Overcritical parents —difference between being genuinely concerned about the life and development of one's child—acting in love vs. being unloving and mean spirited
Feeling lost and alone
Feeling guilt for one’s wicked actions and thoughts
|Featuring:||Saoirse Ronan … Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson
Timothée Chalamet … Kyle Scheible
Odeya Rush … Jenna Walton
Laurie Metcalf … Marion McPherson
Kathryn Newton … Darlene
Lucas Hedges … Danny O'Neill
Laura Marano … Diana Greenway
Beanie Feldstein … Julie Steffans
Jake McDorman … Mr. Bruno
Lois Smith … Sister Sarah Joan
Tracy Letts … Larry McPherson
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|Producer:||Scott Rudin Productions
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“Lady Bird” tells the story of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), a Sacramento high-school senior who dreams about the day she will finally be able to fly free of her mother’s roost and from her soul-crushing hometown and land somewhere culturally significant and progressive in thought. She views Sacramento as “the Midwest of California” and views her friends with sadness and disappointment when they tell her they want to stay in the area or go to college close by.
Lady Bird attends an all-girl Catholic high-school because her older brother Miguel (Jordan Rodrigues) once saw someone get knifed in front of the public high school, but she has no desire to look into attending Catholic colleges. She wants to break free in just about every way from everything that has gone into making her who she is.
Her relationship with her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) is strained; both are very opinionated and very strong willed. Her mother isn’t verbally abusive, or outright mean in any way—“matter of fact” would probably be the best way to describe her.
Lady Bird asks her mother if she likes her, and her mom can’t answer the question directly. Marion also works double-shifts in the hospital’s psych ward to help keep Lady Bird in private school and views any negative comments about where they live or what they have as a slap in the face.
Lady Bird’s father, Larry (Tracy Letts), is the quiet member of the family and is undergoing major work-stress and struggles of his own. He also acts as a buffer between his daughter and her mother, and when Lady Bird decides to apply to out-of-state colleges (which she knows will set her mother off), her father promises to clandestinely help with the financial aid applications.
Lady Bird isn’t a particularly good student, and the guidance counselor lovingly reminds her that she might be setting her sights a little too high. But while the usual high school drama of falling for boys and getting into fights with girls who she’s been friends with for years might distract her for a while, she’s determined to get out of Sacramento and fly east, no matter what.
“Lady Bird” is rated R for “language, sexual content, brief graphic nudity, and teen partying.” The language is strong, with over a dozen uses of the F-word. While trying to fit in with the “mean girl” crowd, Lady Bird calls one of the nuns the C-word twice. She later teases the elderly nun by tying streamers to the back of her car and painting “Just married to Jesus” on the back window.
At a school assembly on the topic of abortion, Lady Bird (during her “mean girl” phase) tells the speaker that if the speaker’s mother had gotten an abortion, they wouldn’t all have to be sitting and listening to the boring presentation.
Lady Bird and her friend discuss masturbation techniques while eating all the communion wafers in a room off the chapel. She loses her virginity (in a brief sex scene where she’s in a bra, with no nudity) to a boy who she thinks is also a virgin, and when she finds out he isn’t, she’s upset, telling him “I just wanted it to be special.” He scoffs, telling her she’s going to have a lot of “unspecial” sex in her life.
Miguel’s girlfriend Shelly moves in with the family, because she and Miguel were having sex and her family kicked her out. One of the boys at the neighboring all-boys Catholic high school is caught kissing another boy, and goes to Lady Bird sobbing, not knowing how to tell his parents.
When Lady Bird turns 18, she buys cigarettes, a lottery ticket, and a Playgirl magazine. While she smokes and flips through the magazine outside the convenience store, male frontal nudity is briefly, but explicitly, seen. And the kids smoke marijuana one night after the big drama-class production, but the scene is played mostly for laughs.
As popularity for this movie grows and word of mouth spreads, teenagers may become increasingly more interested in seeing this movie. Parents are very much urged to use caution and prayerfully consider whether a journey with “Lady Bird” is one they want themselves or their teenagers taking.
In a weird way, I thought a lot about the story of the prodigal son while watching “Lady Bird.” Of course, in that story a young man basically tells his father he wishes he were dead so he could have his inheritance, but since his father isn’t dead, the young man demands the inheritance anyway, so he can leave his father’s household. The father obliges, and the young man heads off to a faraway place he dreams will be more fulfilling and exciting, than working on his father’s land.
He proceeds to spend his money on all the things he thought would bring him happiness and contentment, only to wake up one day to find himself so poorly off that he looks longingly at the food that pigs are eating and wishes he could be back home.
Lady Bird struggles with that same longing, but I think it is something we all suffer from at one point or another, especially during our late-teens when we think we know everything and feel invincible.
There is a reason the phrase “the grass is always greener on the other side” was coined in the first place. Lady Bird has a roof over her head, clothes on her back, food at every meal, and attends a private school. She doesn’t really want for the essentials, but she yearns for much more. She claims to hate where she lives, and yet, as the elderly nun points out, her hometown is a much larger part of who she is than she even realizes.
Lady Bird wants to experience having sex for the first time, but when she does, she’s unsatisfied. She tries to lie and fit in with people she thinks will make her happier, but soon realizes that they were a mirage, too.
And, while I won’t give away the ending, when Lady Bird does experience her first moments away from home, it causes her to truly pause and look back at where she came from, at all the things she took for granted or thought were just roadblocks on her journey to freedom.
Contentment isn’t found in getting all that we want, but in learning to appreciate the things we’ve already been given. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 says,
“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”
The movie is a lovely one, with wonderful performances. Saoirse Ronan isn’t even 24, and she’s already been nominated for two Academy Awards. I suspect a third deservedly coming her way for “Lady Bird.” The supporting roles are perfectly played, but none better than the role of Marion by Laurie Metcalf, who will likely earn an Oscar nomination herself.
There is an authenticity to the performances that speaks volumes of the actors, but it also points to a script that rarely rings a false note. I say rarely, because there is one scene involving a football coach that annoyed me a lot more than I thought it would—and that feels like it belongs in the kinds of coming-of-age movies that this movie puts to shame. It may not bother anyone else like it did me, but it’s primarily responsible for my giving this movie 4½ stars instead of 5. But, perhaps I’m really just splitting hairs. This is actually the best reviewed movie in the history of the Rotten Tomatoes Web site, beating out “Toy Story 3,” so it’s fair to say the reviews are all very high.
“Lady Bird” is a love story, of sorts, but not in the way you’ve come to expect them. Yes, there are boys she is interested in along the way, but they aren’t her—or the movie’s—focus. Instead, the film tells two separate love stories. It’s a love story between a mother and a daughter. We don’t often see movies that deal with that family dynamic, and, while I am neither a mother nor a daughter, I can’t remember seeing one that dealt with that specific dynamic this authentically. Love between two people is never easy, and love in a family unit can have more ups and downs than romantic love. That bond between a parent and their child runs deeper than any other human bond, and this movie shows that bond, warts and all.
And, “Lady Bird” is also a love story about home. I wasn’t the least bit surprised to learn after the movie that writer/director Greta Gerwig was from Sacramento. The movie shows us that, while many of us may complain about where we grew up and want to leave the first chance we get, home is rooted in us much more deeply than we might think, and it plays a larger role in who we are as people.
“Lady Bird” is about embracing our roots, loving those who brought us into the world, and appreciating the little corner of the world they brought us into.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.