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If you haven’t watched Lady Bird, you shouldn’t read this blog. If you have watched it and cried, you should read this. If you watched and didn’t cry, then you should definitely read it.

If there is beauty in growing up, then Greta Gerwig has done an excellent job in portraying that in this film. Lady Bird, with its ethos about love in various forms, is by far the most close-to-home movie I’ve watched in recent times. As Christine aka Lady Bird, walks into the threshold of her adulthood, her biggest lesson is understanding love and how easy and not so easy it is sometimes. She shares degrees of affection with her family, friends and love interests, but the most ruthless of all turns out to be with her mother.

“I want to live through something,” is Lady Bird’s first piece of character sketch that we draw from the opening scene. She wants to explore life, its challenges and meanings, even at the cost of being misjudged. Her mother (Marion), distills her idea telling her there is no point in doing so. The stern yet extensive protectiveness of Mary prohibits her from understanding her own child. The miscommunication between the two is so clearly depicted that you want to stand between the two and scream it out. It’s unsettling yet so familiar.

You sense the confidence Lady Bird wants to have with herself in the affirmed way she corrects everyone who calls her Christine. “My name is Lady Bird.. it was given to me by me.” She has the confidence of an adult and the insecurity of a teenager, the urge to fit in and yet stand out. She would boldly walk up to her love interest and recognise herself as a know-it-all individualist, while running up to her brother to know who Jim Morrison is. She is betrayed by both her boyfriends, yet she holds no regret or angst against them, because she understands that they are as honest about themselves as she is.

Lady Bird’s best friend, Julianne accepts her just as she is. Her longing for a bigger horizon like New York along with the hopeless love with the streets of Sacramento, is all understood by ‘Julie’. She snacks on the holy bread discussing how sex would really feel like, has a crush on her Math teacher and gets “perhaps my only shot” with the high school cutie, Lucas, when they are cast in a musical. Julianne and Christine are true best friends. If you have one, you’ll understand.

But, the most significant relationship that Lady Bird has is with her mother. Lady Bird is ambitious, erratic, often confused, but also, compassionate, loving and responsible, exactly like her mother. She and her mother resemble each other so much, that they are blinded by each other’s personalities. Marion knows what life is and Christine wants to know that through her own experiences. Which is why the mother wants her daughter to know that fulfilling dreams sometimes means living through nightmares. Challenges that Lady Bird does not know exist yet. Hence their torrid affairs. Hence their inconsolable pull towards each other.

They are soul mates, the past and future of each other. They have the kind of love that can never fade but will definitely impersonate as anger. There are so many moments that Gerwig highlights between the two that you wish you could relive with your parent, just because you understand them now.

Lady Bird is wild. Lady Bird soars high and drops down. But she always gets up, because she wants to enjoy life not simply live it. That comes with committing mistakes but not letting them become her. And maybe that’s what Lady Bird is all about.

Mariyam Raza Haider

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A journalist by training, Mariyam Haider is a writer and performance poet in Singapore.
She is the researcher of the book The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age written by James Crabtree.
Her writing has appeared in Hindustan Times, Livemint, Feminism In India, New Asian Writing and Kitaab.

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