Thank You & I'm Sorry: The Magic of Lady Bird
I’ve been known to be a little hyperbolic in my day. One time in college, I had to read Kiss, Bow, Shake Hands. It’s this book that detailed how to do business in a bunch of different countries and the customs prominent in each of them, so you wouldn’t accidentally offend someone. When it came to the Greece chapter, they talked about how Greeks are VERY hyperbolic and I truly cannot argue with that fact. At least I’m aware of how I come across. However, despite my hyperbolic tendencies, know that this next statement I mean from the bottom of my soul. It would be true even if I wasn’t from a people that made me genetically predisposed to hyperbolic tendencies: If you only watch one single movie in theatres for the rest of the year, make it Lady Bird.
If you read this blog regularly, you know that I'm aggressively pro-Greta Gerwig, so you may be thinking that my judgement is clouded or something. Let me tell you, it's not. I'm capable of being impartial. I love Anna Kendrick, but I have ZERO trouble talking about which movies of hers were trash.
The Marc Pease Experience. So it stands to reason that I'm capable of seeing without my rose-colored Greta Gerwig glasses on when it comes to Lady Bird.
I already talked very briefly about the movie last week, but I wanted to talk about it again because it’s Thanksgiving. Not only is there a Thanksgiving scene in the movie, but this holiday, along with the holiday season that follows, is about home and family.
Lady Bird is ashamed about every part of her family in the way that only a teenager can be. Her brother has too much “shit in his face,” she makes her dad drop her off before school and prefers someone else to make her lunch, her mom never seems to understand her, and she tells everyone she’s from the wrong side of the tracks because she doesn't like her house. She hates Sacramento and cannot wait to leave for somewhere that actually has culture. Like Connecticut or New York.
There’s a line in the movie where Lady Bird sighs and looks out the window at Sacramento and says, “I just wish that I could live through something.” Her mom points out that she’s living through something now, but Lady Bird laments that it’s not the same thing. It’s that teenage yearning for something big and important. It’s never clear what should happen, just the feeling of SOMETHING.
When you’re young, you feel like your engine is revving right at the starting line. And you’re there in the driver’s seat, waiting for the light to tick down to green, but it never gets there. It just cycles through every shade of yellow imaginable. You’re stuck in this limbo where you feel like you could move fast enough to change the world, but you have no idea what to do or how to do it. Lady Bird captured this youthful restlessness perfectly.
Even though Lady Bird spends the movie complaining that she’s stuck in Sacramento, this is actually a sweet love letter to Lady Bird’s hometown. The nun who looks over her college admissions essay says how clear it is that Lady Bird loves Sacramento. Lady Bird says, “I mean, I guess I pay attention” and then the nun says, “Aren’t those the same? Love and attention?” I’ve seen people criticize this line, saying that love and attention are very different, but I think they’re wrong.
When the nun says attention, she’s not saying it’s a negative thing. We judge people who are needy or have to be the center of attention at all times. That’s not what Greta’s script is referring to.
Attention: I think in this sense, it simply means noticing and, subsequently, caring.
People are most touched when someone pays attention. Like they make an offhand comment about how they need a new laptop sleeve and someone gets them that for Christmas (what’s up, Brendanawicz) instead of getting something they assume the person wants. They did some study about wedding gifts and how the married couple ends up disliking the gifts they get that aren’t on their registry. People like when other people pay attention.
Lady Bird realizes just what that nun meant when she's finally escaped to New York. The movie ends with this voicemail she leaves for her mom, since they're not speaking toward the end of the film. She talks about how when she got her license, she wanted to know if her mom felt the same way driving those same roads she's known since she was a kid. While Lady Bird's doing this voicemail, we see Lady Bird driving down those roads, then it cuts to the mom driving down those same roads in the same car. I don't know if I have the words to describe how much that made my heart hurt.
When you're young, you're very selfish. You see yourself as the center of the world and you know the people around you based on what they are to you. MY mom, MY dad, MY sister, MY teacher, MY friend, etc. You forget that these people are leading lives that are just as confusing, loving, intricate, painful, and magnificent as yours. It's easy to get lost in your own world when your own world feels so overwhelming.
Throughout the course of the movie, Lady Bird's blinders are lifted and she sees that her dad is suffering from depression and her mom is trying her best, but has no idea how to convey her love for Lady Bird. How she was afraid to reach out because she was so worried that Lady Bird wouldn't understand or that she wouldn't be able to find the right words.
This is a movie that's a love letter to moms everywhere. Eventually, Lady Bird realizes that so much of what her mother did was out of love, and she ultimately apologizes for not knowing that. Greta Gerwig said that she'd originally planned to end the movie with a title card that said "CALL YOUR MOTHER" and I just love that.
My relationship with my mom is nowhere near as dramatic as Lady Bird's is with her mom, but there were still moments when I felt could have been lifted from my own life when I was a stubborn idiot. And because of that, I'm going to end this post the same way Lady Bird ends:
Thank you, Mom. I'm sorry.
(Hi, Dad. You're great, too! Maybe Greta Gerwig will make a movie about dads next time.)