Joseph Romano’s review published on Letterboxd:
I watched this today as part of Empire Movie Night (no, I had no official part in it...I just followed along on twitter). Needless to say the experience was wonderful.
In my last review of LADY BIRD I wrote “what else is there to say?” It turns out there is plenty more to say, more than I have the words for. But, here’s my best try.
It's my fourth time watching now and the experience simply becomes more surreal with each viewing. When I first saw it in the theatre I was overcome by so many different emotions that I could not articulate or express in any tangible way other than to write them down. It was my first essay on film and by far the most rewarding that I have ever written. Nothing has matched my tapping away at that keyboard, putting all those unsaid feelings into words and sentences and paragraphs. I know that I am no professional writer, as much as I wish I could be, but I can't help but wonder how much of a different person I would be if I didn't have the pleasure of viewing this film in a theatre. So, please indulge me as I might start to ramble quite a bit.
I appreciate this film on another level with each and every viewing. There is such a depth and sorrow to each and every character, large and small alike. Everyone wants to understand their flaws in an ideal world, however, that's not the one we live in. We all have shortcomings and it is part of being human to accept that. We fail those we care about in the smallest of ways. Not accepting our names (the very things that define us since birth) or our homes. Sometimes we focus on the wrong things and don't realize how important those things we take for granted are. Our homes and our families are inseparable from ourselves, no matter how far we stray we cannot by any means ever leave that behind. The themes of LADY BIRD are universal because there is an innate understanding that everything is fleeting, every moment, every joy, every sorrow, every smile, every tear yet at the same time none of it ever truly leaves. Each and every frame is glowing as if they are memories, the memories we had or never had and, for some, new memories that can be incorporated into their own lives.
"Some people aren't built happy"
LADY BIRD sees so many characters grapple with depression and its consequences. Marion wants to drive her daughter to be the best version of herself because she loves her so dearly. The film repeatedly tells us *she has a big heart*. Yet what is sacrificed in this? Does she fray the relationship with her daughter and ware it so thin that it has become irreparable? Thankfully not, but in a different world with different people maybe they would not have been so fortunate.
"Money isn't life's report card. Being successful doesn't mean that you're happy...But he's NOT happy."
The interconnected nature of money, happiness, and life is hardly depicted in a truer way anywhere else. It is a clear factor that has worn away at this family for years and in a rapidly changing world, who knows what to expect? Money does not matter more than family and happiness, not even close, but it still has a large bearing upon it. What is one left to think when he or she struggles to provide for those he or she cares most for in the world?
The emotional core of this film is about growing up, and not just Lady Bird/Christine. Everyone has room to grow every day because we are human, regardless of age or experience. Life has a way of reminding you that you are imperfect and will be learning each and every day. It's up to you if you decide to listen.
The parallels are poetic as Marion's drives around Sacramento, her momentary break from the ceaseless stress, she just soaks it in. Lady Bird is unable to understand this until the film's final moments. Sister Sarah Joan poignantly asks her, "Don't you think that maybe they are the same thing – *Love and Attention*". What Lady Bird doesn't realize, or more accurately pretends not to know, is that this can be an obvious parallel to her mother. That attention that her mother levies upon her, the constant criticisms and passive-aggressive comments that infuriate her so, are simply misguided expressions of her unconditional love. Yes, it is very much heartbreaking, but some of us are simply poorly made in one sense or another. We don't know how to express the feelings eating away at us because we are human and aren't meant to know everything.
The question we, therefore, must reckon with is if we are indeed willing to accept our flaws and imperfections as our own.
I once again cannot by any means summarize everything this film means to me in words, not to mention everything it means to everyone else. Its working title was "Mothers and Daughters" for obvious reasons. I will never be able to comprehend the true depth of this principle element, all I can do is try to understand the copious meaning it has for so many. Especially when considering the fact that such a relationship goes practically unaddressed in film discourse, this movie's place in history just seems so eye-opening and vital. If not for the wonderous film itself, but simply for the mindset it asks its audience to adopt.
Films like this will always hold a special place in the hearts of so many. Its stunning warmth, its acceptance of our imperfections, its recognition of our doubts. Many have found flaws in the simplistic nature of it, the reliance on 'tropes', or the standard nature of its presentation. I simply don't see that, I don't know, maybe it's me, but I'm not the only one. Sometimes all you can ask of a movie is to make you care, LADY BIRD goes far past that. It makes you feel and makes you remember. It fills the heart, soaks the tear ducts, and touches the soul.
I just wanted to say thank you.