A Journey to Finding Identity and Unraveling the Buried Histories It’s rare to find a book that speaks all-together about the gender identity, Asian and a first-generation immigrant story. Elaine Castillo’s debut novel, America is Not the Heart, is somewhat of a homage to immigrants. Ms. Castillo recognizes the immigrants’ struggles and tells them that […]
In a world where most teenage girls are advertised as utterly vain and basic, ‘Lady Bird’ is a film in which its lead proclaims her own name and dictates exactly what she wants in life, even when continuously doubted.
Initially known for acting, Greta Gerwig, the film’s director, has used her past decade of experience on film sets to create the natural cinematic spectacle that is Lady Bird as her directorial debut. Her creation has earned the film five Academy Award nominations, and four Golden Globes nominations, winning Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and Best Actress for Saoirse Ronan’s role. Her Academy nomination for Best Director made her the first female in the category to obtain it in eight years, and one of only five female directors ever nominated.
Greta has collaborated with her partner, Noah Baumbach, in co-writing some of the films he has directed and she has starred in, but had never taken on a project entirely for herself until Lady Bird. She has expressed in interviews that she initially intended to become a playwright, but after being profusely rejected by a few playwright programs while in college, she stuck with acting since it was working for her at the time. She was persistent in getting her filmmaking experience and education, however she could, even if not through film school.
Greta’s creation has worked alongside a few of the other wildly praised indie films of the past year, like Call Me by Your Name and The Florida Project. When most teenage stories are plainly about a first kiss or first love, Lady Bird uncovers just that. But through a much more honest and personal light, while also uncapping the mostly forgotten and underrepresented love between mothers and daughters and how that love is represented when we move away from home.
Having grown up in Sacramento herself, Gerwig draws from her own experiences growing up in a private catholic school within a middle-class family in the suburbs of Sacramento. Even though it is a work of fiction, she uses incredibly detailed depictions of the city. From the houses to the bridges, to the stores, to the people, the city is a major part of the story and is practically embraced as another strong leading character, yet still incredibly subtle. However, the city doesn’t just serve as a symbol for what home means to some of us, but it also serves to represent a huge component of the film’s thesis.
In a scene in which Lady Bird reviews her college essay, her principal tells her that she can tell how much she really loves Sacramento by the amount of detail she presents when describing it. Even though this is a direct contradiction to Lady Bird continuously thinking about leaving her hometown, this encapsulates the core of the film as the principal explains that perhaps that’s what love is, attention. This unwraps itself as a subtle metaphor and understanding of the relationship and love between Lady Bird and her mother. Even though it’s not seemingly ‘tender,’ it’s a love full of attentiveness to each other.
With a warm cinematography filled with red, orange and blue pastel colors, the film is intended to be perceived as a memory rather than an ambitiously objective plot. The story is filled with details that at times don’t go anywhere, but still don’t feel out of place. Rather, the film is perceived as full and real, with highly existing three-dimensional characters. Its honesty is delivered with a pulse and charismatic ingenuity, even during awkward and frustrating moments. It depicts life in a faulty yet sincere light that doesn’t try to be anything else other than what it presents itself to be.
Written and directed by a woman, and with a woman as a strong lead, the story is one especially relatable to women and girls all over, a demography often not accurately targeted. With a flawed heroine that is not afraid to aggressively approach her goals without much fear of rejection, the story is able to carry strength in its own vulnerabilities, becoming a representation long overdue. In a world in which mothers and daughters are often stereotyped and underrepresented, this is a film that will make you miss home and want to call your mom and say, “thank you.”