Updated On: November 18, 2023 by   Maha Yassin   Maha Yassin  

Lady Bird (2017)



1hr 34min

Lady Bird (2017): Redefining Coming-of-Age Films

Do you remember your transition period from an angsty teenager to a mature adult? You might not because the brain sometimes blocks traumatising memories for our own sake. And for some people, those years in their late teens are nothing short of a nightmare they would rather forget. Just ask Lady Bird. Lady Bird (2017) […]



Do you remember your transition period from an angsty teenager to a mature adult? You might not because the brain sometimes blocks traumatising memories for our own sake. And for some people, those years in their late teens are nothing short of a nightmare they would rather forget. Just ask Lady Bird.

Lady Bird (2017) is a coming-of-age drama written and directed by the incredible Greta Gerwig and stars her favourite collaborator, Saoirse Ronan, in the lead role. The film discusses the turbulent changes a young woman goes through as they transition from a teenager to an adult. From her relationship with her mother, her friendships, her romantic endeavours, and her dream to break out of any mould.

Lady Bird is one of the best coming-of-age films that has been released in recent years. It’s a true classic that will live forever. In this article, we will delve more into the creation of the film, Greta’s first major directorial project, and the ups and downs of growing up.

Key Takeaways

  • Lady Bird (2017) is a coming-of-age film set in Sacramento, California that follows high school senior Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson as she navigates her final year of high school and explores her relationships with her family and friends.
  • The film was directed by Greta Gerwig, marking her solo directorial debut, and stars Saoirse Ronan as Lady Bird. It received critical acclaim for its authentic portrayal of teenage life and the complex dynamics between mother and daughter.
  • The film has significantly impacted the coming-of-age genre by showcasing diverse perspectives and relatable experiences. Its success also paved the way for more opportunities for female directors in Hollywood.

Lady Bird: How Hard Can It Be To Grow Up?

Lady Bird follows Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson through her final year at a Catholic high school in Sacramento, California. Desiring to escape her provincial life and her complex relationship with her mother, Marion, Lady Bird dreams of attending an East Coast college despite her family not being able to afford such an endeavour financially.

Throughout the year, Lady Bird navigates the trials of adolescence. She experiences first love with Danny and then Kyle, explores friendships as she drifts from her best friend Julie to the more affluent Jenna, and participates in school plays, all while frequently clashing with her mother. Her mother is pragmatic and constantly worried about finances, which contrasts sharply with her lofty aspirations and desire for sophistication.

As Lady Bird’s ambitions hit the reality of her family’s economic limits, she begins to appreciate her Sacramento life and the support of her family, especially after a series of disappointments and realizations about the people she idolizes. Ultimately, she gets accepted to a college in New York, leading to a bittersweet departure. Once there, she faces the challenges of independence, feeling the weight of her mother’s absence.

In the final act, Lady Bird, now in New York, calls her mother after a particularly difficult night, expressing her love and gratitude. The film closes with Lady Bird embracing her given name, Christine, signalling a newfound appreciation for her roots and the identity she once rebelled against.

Lady Bird: Growing Up 101

The coming-of-age movie is rich with themes that resonate with its audience, exploring the intricacies of teenage life and the path to self-discovery. While watching the film, you will find yourself at least resonating with one of the themes, as they are all very personal and have been experienced by most girls at some point in their lives. Greta Gerwig’s wonderful portrayal of girlhood in Barbie (2023) started with Lady Bird!

Identity and Self-Exploration

Christine’s adoption of the name “Lady Bird” signifies her desire to craft an identity independent from her given circumstances. Throughout the film, she grapples with who she is and who she wants to be, often experimenting with different personas in various social settings. This theme underscores the adolescent struggle to establish a unique sense of self amidst the pressure of societal and familial expectations.

Mother-Daughter Relationship

The relationship between Lady Bird and Marion is characterized by deep affection laced with conflict. Marion’s critical and pragmatic approach to life often clashes with Lady Bird’s idealistic and independent nature. The film meticulously portrays the push-and-pull dynamic of their relationship, highlighting the complexities that come with shifting from child-parent dependency to an adult understanding and respect.

Aspirations and Reality

Lady Bird’s aspirations to attend an East Coast college and lead a life of culture and opportunity collide with the reality of her family’s financial limitations. The film sensitively portrays the heartbreak and frustration that come when dreams are constrained by economic status and the resilience required to adjust and find new paths to fulfilment.

Coming of Age and Transition

The transition from high school to adulthood is fraught with challenges. Lady Bird captures this pivotal stage with poignant accuracy, showcasing the protagonist’s emotional and practical struggles as she stands on the precipice of independence, making decisions that will shape her future.

Socioeconomic Class

The film doesn’t shy away from depicting the impact of socioeconomic status on personal relationships and self-image. Lady Bird is acutely aware of the financial disparities between her family and those of her peers, which affects her friendships, romantic relationships, and her view of herself.

Place and Belonging

Initially, Lady Bird sees Sacramento as a symbol of her limitations, but as the film progresses, it becomes clear that the city is an integral part of her identity. The theme of place and belonging examines how one’s hometown shapes the person one becomes, serving as a silent witness to the pains and pleasures of growing up.

Acceptance and Forgiveness

As characters falter and reconcile, the themes of acceptance and forgiveness are central to their development. In her journey, Lady Bird learns to accept the imperfections in herself and her life circumstances and forgives those she feels have wronged her. This theme culminates in a poignant realization of the strength of familial bonds and the grace that comes with maturity.

Through these themes, the film tells a story that is both specific and universal, leaving a profound impact on viewers who see reflections of their own journeys in Lady Bird’s story.

The Cast and Crew Behind Lady Bird

Lady Bird was Greta Gerwig’s second directorial project after 2008’s Nights and Weekends and her first solo one. The film put her on the map as one of the best directors in Hollywood today. She made this project with a number of actors who would later become constant collaborators with her, giving us multiple wonderful projects.

Greta Gerwig (Director)

Greta Gerwig‘s work on Lady Bird is a testament to her multifaceted writer and director talent. In her solo directorial debut, Gerwig crafts a semi-autobiographical narrative that is both intimate and universally relatable, imbuing the film with a distinctive voice that resonates with authenticity and emotional depth.

Her screenplay is sharply written, filled with witty dialogue and richly drawn characters, which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. As a director, Gerwig demonstrates a keen eye for detail and an exceptional ability to elicit nuanced performances from her cast, resulting in a film that is both personal in its storytelling and expansive in its themes.

Her direction in Lady Bird received widespread critical acclaim, leading to her nomination for an Academy Award for Best Director and solidifying her status as a significant voice in contemporary cinema.

Saoirse Ronan as Lady Bird

Saoirse Ronan‘s portrayal of Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson stands as a highlight of her already illustrious career. She brings a raw, unfiltered energy to the role, embodying the restless spirit of a teenage girl yearning for self-discovery and independence.

Ronan’s performance is marked by a compelling blend of humour and pathos, effortlessly switching from rebellious outbursts to moments of tender vulnerability. Her authentic portrayal captures the complexities of adolescence, earning her critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Ronan’s character is both defiant and endearing, a character that has left a lasting impression in the landscape of coming-of-age cinema.

Laurie Metcalf as Marion McPherson

Laurie Metcalf portrays Lady Bird’s mother, a role that showcases her ability to convey complex emotions and the depth of maternal love and frustration. Metcalf’s portrayal is nuanced and powerful, earning her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Beanie Feldstein as Julie Steffans

Beanie Feldstein plays Lady Bird’s best friend, Julie. Her performance is both heartfelt and humorous, providing a solid foundation as Lady Bird’s most loyal and grounded companion throughout her journey of self-discovery.

Timothée Chalamet as Kyle Scheible

Timothée Chalamet‘s portrayal of Kyle, Lady Bird’s other love interest, encapsulates the brooding, intellectual teen who ultimately reveals a more self-absorbed side. Chalamet’s performance contributed to his rising profile as a young actor of note.

Lady Bird: From Pages to Screen

The production of Lady Bird is a story of meticulous craftsmanship and a deeply personal touch, reflective of Greta Gerwig’s own experiences growing up in Sacramento. The film was produced by Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, and Evelyn O’Neill, with A24 distributing it.

Location and Setting

Sacramento, California, serves as not just the backdrop but almost a character in itself within the film. Gerwig’s intimate knowledge of the city enabled the film to feature authentic locations, from the ‘blue house’ that Lady Bird dreams of living to the various Catholic schools that inspired the setting of Lady Bird’s high school. The film was shot on location, which adds to the authentic feel of the setting.


Filming took place over the course of a month in the summer of 2016. Gerwig’s directorial approach was collaborative, and she worked closely with cinematographer Sam Levy to create a visual style that was both grounded and poetic, using a warm colour palette to evoke the nostalgia and sentimentality of memory.

Music and Soundtrack

The soundtrack, composed by Jon Brion, underscores the film’s emotional landscape with a subtle and impactful score. The film also features carefully chosen tracks from the early 2000s to anchor it in time and place, contributing to the authenticity of the period.

Lady Bird Resonates with Critics and Audiences

Lady Bird, released in 2017, was a critical and commercial success. It grossed over $78 million worldwide against a budget of just $10 million. The film resonated with audiences and became a sleeper hit, surpassing expectations at the box office.

Critical Acclaim and Awards

Lady Bird soared to critical acclaim upon its release, quickly becoming one of the most celebrated films of 2017. Critics lauded Greta Gerwig’s authentic and poignant storytelling alongside the film’s sharp wit and emotional depth. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf received widespread praise for their compelling portrayals, capturing the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship with remarkable sincerity.

The film garnered a multitude of accolades, including five Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Director for Gerwig, Best Actress for Ronan, Best Supporting Actress for Metcalf, and Best Original Screenplay. It also received several Golden Globe nominations and won Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, with Ronan taking home the Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy award.

Lady Bird also enjoyed critical success at the BAFTAs and Screen Actors Guild Awards, cementing its status as a darling of award season and a standout in indie filmmaking.

The Impact and Legacy of Lady Bird

Lady Bird has left an indelible mark on the landscape of independent cinema, distinguishing itself as a defining film of the coming-of-age genre. Its impact extends beyond its critical and awards success, resonating with audiences for its authentic portrayal of adolescent yearning and familial dynamics.

The film’s legacy is particularly notable for solidifying Greta Gerwig’s reputation as a formidable voice in filmmaking, paving the way for more female directors to tell personal and intimate stories on their own terms.

It has also contributed to the cultural conversation about the nuanced portrayal of women on screen, with Saoirse Ronan’s Lady Bird becoming an emblematic figure for teenage self-discovery and defiance. The film’s success demonstrated the commercial viability of indie films with strong female leads and creative teams, inspiring a wave of similar storytelling in the industry.

Lady Bird continues to be celebrated for its heartfelt narrative, complex characters, and its impact on the genre and representation in cinema.

Personal impact on viewers.

Lady Bird has had a profound personal impact on viewers, resonating with people of all ages. The relatable and authentic portrayal of the turbulent bond between a mother and her strong-willed teenage daughter evokes emotions and memories for many. Don’t be surprised if you shed a tear or two!

The film’s exploration of adolescence and the challenges of growing up strikes a chord with audiences who have experienced or are currently going through these transformative years.

Additionally, Saoirse Ronan’s standout performance as Lady Bird brings depth and authenticity to the character, further enhancing viewers’ emotional connection. Lady Bird has become more than just a coming-of-age film; it has become a touchstone for understanding and empathy, leaving a lasting impression on its audience.

When it comes to coming-of-age films, Lady Bird has definitely set the bar very high. Audiences will no longer accept subpar portrayals of the pains of growing up. If we don’t end up crying about a conversation we had with our mothers at the mall at the age of 17, then keep the film! So, if you’re up for some self-exploration and digging out old memories, then make sure to watch Lady Bird.

What is the point of Lady Bird movie?

Lady Bird is a coming-of-age film meant to reflect the pain and beauty behind the transition from a teenager to an adult. It portrays this period of life through the complex relationship between mothers and daughters.

What is the story behind Lady Bird?

Lady Bird is the story of a teenage girl in her senior year who dreams of attending university in New York City despite her family’s financial struggles. Her big dreams cause a strenuous relationship with her mother.

Why does Lady Bird wear pink?

Lady Bird’s pink hair and pink dress are meant to clash with the earthy tones of the film to showcase her need to break from the mould and be different.

Is Lady Bird a real name?

Lady Bird is the nickname Christine McPherson chose for herself. The name is inspired by the First Lady Claudia Johnson. She was known as someone who did not play by the rules.

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