Phillip’s review published on Letterboxd:
I had an argument with my mother before we watched this. It was about something extremely trivial, how we showed up to the theater a few minutes late and the only seats that were available were in the very front. I for some reason chose to say “I told you so” as a means to convince myself that I was right by saying we should have gotten our tickets online. I felt validated in the moment, but soon found myself apologizing profusely to her, and by that time we were in the front row of the theater, watching Lady Bird.
A lot has changed in my life since I last viewed this movie at the New York Film Fest, although it was only a month ago, it feels like an eternity. I’ve become more attached to my friends at the university and detached from the one girl in New York who I thought meant the whole world to me. This past Tuesday, I saw a mutual friend, who lives in New York, and he told me that he gave her the note that I had written, (Not the same note in which I confessed my feelings, that note is still sitting on my desk, and yet I cannot compel myself to look at it). The film presents an idea that love and attention are the same things, and to be completely honest, I agree, because as I have been paying less and less attention to a woman who lives a thousand miles away, I know my feelings for her are changing.
How do I write about a movie that takes my life and vividly portrays it on screen? I’ve long thought about my relationship with religion, as I grew up going to church on Sunday morning, yet once I got older I found myself refusing to conform to their ways, going so far as to refuse communion at my cousin’s wedding last week. I struggle with depression, and it’s not fun, there’s one particular moment in this film where Julie says “some people aren’t built happy” which resonated a lot with me. Of course I dealt with the pressures of senior year, and lately, I have been wondering if any of my feelings that year, love, loss, and melancholy, were just a way of me moving on, and not my real feelings. I am sure many other people have dealt with these situations, and yet this movie just feels so personal, and I think largely that has to do with my mother.
I was 15 when I crashed her car into this large slab of concrete that separated a pizza place and a gas station. We didn’t talk for three weeks, I wrote countless I’m sorry notes, even once copying Buddy’s “I’m Sorry” speech from Elf. When I finally worked up the courage to come face to face with her, I said: “do you forgive me?” She thought about it for a few seconds, and then nodded, and we hugged. Now, Lady Bird didn’t crash her mother's car, but the way the relationship comes across on the screen is so effortless and sublime, I couldn’t help but reach across the seats and squeeze my mom’s hand as we watched both Lady Bird and her mother Marion grow up over the course of this magical film.
Saoirse Ronan is perfection as Lady Bird, a miraculous spitfire of a character. Her delivery is sharp, and her facial expressions are on point. This viewing, I caught a subtle reference to Frances Ha in her dialogue, and it made me smile so big that you could probably see it from space. The entire cast brings their A-game as well, and this is largely due to their skills as performers, and Greta Gerwig’s skills as a writer and director.
It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Greta Gerwig, as an actress, I’m charmed by her personality, it’s raw and delicate, as well as hardened and resilient. Gerwig as a writer is extremely relatable, witty, and jovial. But Greta Gerwig as a director, is all those things combined and then some, her camera angles are striking, and the Sacramento scenes are extremely pleasant and warm, almost familiar, as if the film is allowing us, for a moment, to step into Sacramento and love it as much as Lady Bird does.
This film has done so much for me, and I am sure it will continue to do so much more for years to come. All I feel right now is gratitude, to the performers, the crew, the musicians, everyone involved in this wonder of a film, I appreciate all of you. Perhaps it is because it’s that time of the year where we take the time to give thanks, so right now to close this mess of a write-up I want to say thanks to two very specific people, yellow crumpled up pages not included.
Greta, thank you for your spirit. Your films have touched me in a way that no other films have affected me before, Frances Ha is one of the best movies I have seen, I love Mistress America, and yet I think Lady Bird might be my favorite because of the passion you clearly put into it, loved your use of “Cry Me a River” by the way. My wish for you is that you continue to make movies, and do what makes you happy, I know this might not mean much, but I will support whatever you do next. Just thank you for being you.
Mom, I know I don’t tell you I love you enough. I’m sorry that I forgot to fold my laundry but I will get right on that. Thank you for loving me unconditionally, no matter what I do, and though we may fight sometimes, just know that I am sorry for everything I have done and will do. Remember the time in Los Angeles, we were at this restaurant that shared your name, and my brother spilled orange juice on himself, I made some stupid joke about pulp and we laughed, the three of us just laughing in a restaurant, not caring what anyone thought. I miss that, we should do that again sometime. Thank you for those memories, I cannot wait to make more.
Love, your son Phillip