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Lady Bird Takes Flight

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The tumultuous yet charming tale of a mother and daughter recently premiered at the Austin Film Festival.

By Madison Matous, Photos courtesy of the Austin Film Festival

Lady Bird is not your average coming-of-age story. Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, portrayed by Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan, is a rebellious high-school senior. She goes to an all-girls Catholic school in Sacramento, Calif., and can’t wait to go to college where there’s more culture, aka, the East Coast. But unlike other similar stories that feature a young female protagonist, the film doesn’t center on her romantic relationships, but on the often underrepresented relationship between a mother and her daughter.

Lady Bird, written and directed by California-born filmmaker Greta Gerwig, offers a glimpse into the life of a teenage girl as she transitions from high school to college. There are moments that will make you laugh, many you will recognize from your own life, and a few that will make you shed a tear. Watching the film is like riding a roller coaster of emotion.

“I wanted it to feel almost like a pop song that you hear and you’re singing along to it on the radio, and it’s fast and fun…but when you slow it down, it’s sad,” Gerwig says. “And I wanted the film to have that quality, like we’re boppin’ along and feeling good and then you’re crying and you don’t know why.”

For Lady Bird, her teenage years are defined by her often strained relationship with her mother, and along the way, boys come and go, but they act as a mere subplot. By writing the film in this way, Gerwig has ensured Lady Bird really is about finding yourself and learning from your experiences.

The highly anticipated film was shown as the opening film for the Austin Film Festival, followed by a question-and-answer session with Gerwig. Lady Bird is Gerwig’s first film she’s both written and directed, and she said she feels very connected with the script. She also grew up in Northern California and attended an all-girls Catholic school.

“In terms of Lady Bird, she was an invention in a way. I mean, I never made people call me by a different name [and]never dyed my hair bright red,” Gerwig says. “I think it was sort of an exploration of the things that I couldn’t express…but yeah, I gave my mom hell when I was in high school, which I feel just so guilty for now.”

Lady Bird, Gerwig explained, is a story about home, and “how home is something that really only comes into focus when you’re leaving. When you’re in it, there’s something about the beauty and love that you can’t really take in, so when you’re walking away, you’re thinking, ‘Oh, that was it.’ ”

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