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Father Leviatch: "Lady Bird"? Is that your given name?
Lady Bird: Yeah.
Father Leviatch: Why is it in quotes?
Lady Bird: I gave it to myself. It's given to me by me.
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Lady Bird is a 2017 Dramedy film written and directed by Greta Gerwig as her debut solo directorial effort (she had previously co-directed "Nights and Weekends" with Joe Swanberg).

The semi-autobiographical film centers around Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) during the course of her 2002–03 senior year at a Catholic high school in Sacramento, California, including her attempts at finding love and getting into a college far away from her hometown and the conflicts with her strong-willed mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf). Other cast members include Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Lois Smith.


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Lady Bird provides examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Past: As stated numerous times, the movie is set in 2002/2003.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Sister Sarah Joan has this reaction to Lady Bird and Jenna's "Married to Jesus" prank, with the result of her not getting into trouble.
  • Adult Fear: Seeing your child waste the opportunities you have struggled to provide for her — not to mention the looming specter of being unable to provide for her at all. Lady Bird's mom and dad never talk about this directly, but then, it's a Coming-of-Age Story; the whole point is that Lady Bird hasn't grown up enough to understand it.
  • ...And That Little Girl Was Me: Invoked by Casey Kelly, the pro-life advocate who comes to Lady Bird's school and tells the story about a woman who almost got an abortion, but chose not to. The girls in the audience guess that she's the woman in the story, but Casey corrects them—that woman was actually her mother, and she's the result.
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  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Lady Bird opines she wishes her mother liked her, Marion replies that of course, she loves Lady Bird. Lady Bird then replies, "But do you like me?" and Marion is left unable to answer.
  • As You Know: In the opening scene Lady Bird mentions to her mother that it's the year 2002.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Many of the performances in the school plays are stilted. The teachers cast everyone who auditions, even resorting to inventing roles to ensure that everyone gets a part.
  • Bait-and-Switch Accusation: While Lady Bird is stealing a magazine from a shop, she hears Danny shout "Stop" but when she turns around, it becomes clear he was actually talking to his sibling.
  • Beauty Inversion: Saoirse Ronan herself usually has great skin, while Lady Bird has acne and pockmarks on her face. In the year before filming, Ronan started suffering unusual breakouts due to fatigue and wearing a lot of makeup. The makeup artist suggested not covering it up as much, as such acne would be typical for a high schooler, and Ronan agreed.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Lady Bird finally gets what she wants and is attending college in New York, but gets badly homesick and calls her mother to let her know she understands her better.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: The film centers on the conflict between Lady Bird and her mother, but avoids completely taking sides with either of them, portraying both of them as having legitimate complaints at various points. Which one of them, if either, is the more sympathetic is largely left up to the viewer.
  • Break the Motivational Speaker: Lady Bird and her classmates are required to attend a talk by a pro-life speaker (it's a Catholic high school) who tells them an "uplifting" story about how her own mother decided not to have an abortion as a pregnant teenager. Lady Bird does not find this convincing and picks a fight with the speaker, resulting in her suspension.
  • Brick Joke: Early in the film, Sister Joan leads a discussion on prom themes; one of them is "Eternal Flame." Sure enough, in the prom scene at the end of the movie, we see that they went with that motif: there are flames and fiery decorations everywhere.
  • Broken Ace: Father Leviatch, who's the school's funny, charming drama teacher, still grieves over his son's death, and soon checks into the same mental hospital Marion works at.
  • Central Theme: According to director Greta Gerwig, the film is about how "one person's Coming of Age is another person's time to let go."
  • Coming-of-Age Story: The film is centered around Lady Bird's senior year, and her longing for independence, with all the reckless teenage decisions that come with it.
  • Cool People Rebel Against Authority: Kyle deconstructs this. He says things like how he doesn't like money, the government is tracking you through cell phones, etc, but the film shows that he's just saying all this without any conviction or depth.
  • Cry Cute:
    • Lady Bird does this while hanging out with Julie, right after she discovers Danny making out with another boy in the men's room.
    • And again after she loses her virginity to Kyle, only to discover that she wasn't his first and he doesn't even care that it hurt her that he lied to her.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Lady Bird and Julie discuss their preferred methods, and Lady Bird later indulges herself while thinking of Kyle.
  • Did Not Get The Guy: Lady Bird doesn't end up with either one of her love interests. By the end, she doesn't seem all too bothered.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Christine is very very insistent on being called "Lady Bird." She gives up on it when she moves to New York, in an apparent attempt to reinvent herself.
  • Dramedy: Oh, big time. Lots of poignant, even tragic moments mixed with all the ridiculousness of youth.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: When she starts hanging out with Jenna, Lady Bird starts wearing her hair in a ponytail with a ribbon just like she does.
  • Fish out of Water:
    • After Father Leviatch leaves the school to check into a mental hospital for his suicidal tendencies, another priest named Father Walther takes his place as director of the drama program. Trouble is, he's the school's football coach and knows nothing about directing. He designs blocking for the shows like a gridiron play, with the different actors as Xs and Os.
    • Played more seriously in two cases with Lady Bird. In the first case, she clearly doesn't fit in with the "cool kids" of her school, which culminates in her ditching them to go to the prom with Julie. Secondly, she's not exactly comfortable in New York at the movie's end, and ends up homesick.
  • Foreshadowing: Lady Bird notes how "dexterous" Kyle is in putting on a condom in spite of being a virgin. A few minutes later, he admits that he's not a virgin.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Close-ups on Marion's handwritten letters reveal some interesting tidbits, such as the fact that Christine was a happy accident. (The exact wording implies fertility problems, which also neatly explains the presence of the clearly-adopted Miguel.)
  • Gayngst: What Danny goes through, much to Lady Bird's consternation, though when he apologizes and breaks down, she offers him solace.
  • Good Shepherd: Lady Bird's two drama teachers are priests, and although their quirks are Played for Laughs, both teachers legitimately care about their students and work (in their own ways) to help the drama club succeed.
  • Happily Adopted: Miguel. His girlfriend Shelly is also brought in successfully.
  • Hated Hometown: Lady Bird's loathing of Sacramento is her impetus to try and attend college on the East Coast. However, Sister Sarah Joan notes that she writes of Sacramento with detail that borders on affection, and by the end of the movie, she's entering Sunday mass in a Catholic Church, clearly homesick.
  • Hope Spot: Lady Bird repairs her friendship with Julie, ostensibly dumps her pretentious boyfriend, graduates high school, and all is well in the family. Then the audience gets reminded, for the first time in what seems like a while, that Lady Bird and her father were working behind Marion's back to apply to colleges in the east coast. This sets off what is arguably Lady Bird's biggest crisis in the movie – dealing with her mother's silent treatment for months until she leaves for college, and ultimately realizing (after a wicked bender, no less) that she wouldn't be where she is if not for her family, particularly her mother, and also her hometown.
  • Hot for Teacher: Julie has a crush on the math teacher, Mr. Bruno, and is disappointed to discover he is Happily Married and expecting a baby.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Lady Bird and Julie fawn over how attractive Jenna is.
  • Informed Attribute: Invoked Trope. Apart from his pills, we never see Larry's struggle with depression - because he's actively hiding it from Lady Bird, and keeps doing so even after Marion admits it to her.
  • Innocently Insensitive: When Danny first meets Lady Bird's family, he cheerfully notes that when Lady Bird said she "lives on the wrong side of the tracks," he didn't expect to literally cross railroad tracks when getting to her house. Marion's pained expression after that comment shows how much it hurts her.
  • In with the In Crowd: Lady Bird and Julie drift apart as the former tries to ingratiate herself with Jenna and Kyle's more popular social circle.
  • It's All About Me: Lady Bird demands to go to an East Coast college despite the family's tenuous financial circumstances, has her father drop her off a block from school, and temporarily dumps Julie to get new friends. Both Julie and Marion call her out on this, and she gets better as time goes on. Also, Kyle, who lies to Lady Bird about being a virgin.
  • Jerkass: How Marion is initially presented. Also, Jenna, who is even flippant about suicide. Also Kyle.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Marion may be blunt with Lady Bird, and her attitude toward her daughter attending an East Coast school borders on cruel. But it would be a huge financial burden for a family that's living on a single income, especially after Larry loses his job, to say nothing of the cost of things like cell phones and plane tickets.
    • During one of her fights with her family, Lady Bird correctly points out to Miguel and Shelly that companies are less willing to hire people with face jewelry. Sure enough, once Miguel removes the jewelry (and tames his grungy hair), He Cleans Up Nicely and finds a well-paying desk job.
    • As a general rule, a college admission counselor's first response to someone admitting they'd like to attend an Ivy League school shouldn't be a burst of laughter. But Lady Bird isn't a great student and has limited extracurricular activities, so getting into any high-tier college would be difficult, let alone some of the best schools in the United States.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Lady Bird finds Danny kissing another boy in a bathroom stall.
  • Meaningful Rename: Lady Bird is her given name, she explains, because she gave it to herself. At the end of the film, she starts going by Christine again.
  • Mock Millionaire: Lady Bird pretends to be a rich kid to fit in with the cool kids, but her charade falls apart by the end of the year.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • One of the film's hallmarks. Just one example: the sex scene between Lady Bird and Kyle goes from tense and romantic, to humorous when she realizes that he's already finished, to heartbreaking when Kyle comments that he's lost count of the number of girls he's slept with, despite saying that he was a virgin, to devastating when Lady Bird walks out of the house and sees Kyle's dying father with an oxygen tank in the living room.
    • It's also manifested in Marion and Lady Bird's relationship. The two can be arguing and sniping at each other one minute, and then gushing over a dress quite literally a split-second later.
  • Outgrowing the Childish Name: "Lady Bird" abandons her self-proclaimed nickname and starts going by her given name, Christine, when she goes to college, a time when she starts to realize the negative effects of her previous stubbornness.
  • Parents as People: Neither of Lady Bird's parents is perfect, particularly Marion, who nitpicks the family and doesn't say yes when Lady Bird asks if she likes her. However, both care about their children very much and work hard to support them.
  • Period Piece: The film takes place during the 2002-3 school year. Whenever someone is watching television, it's news reports on the unfolding War on Terror.
  • Playing a Tree: The drama program creates a large number of roles so that more kids have a chance to be onstage. Lady Bird lampshades this when she and Julie are arguing about the former not agreeing to be in The Tempest; she was apparently given the role of the titular storm.
  • Random Events Plot: The film follows a school year in the life of Lady Bird, and consists of various vignettes.
  • Scenery Porn: Sacramento is a dead-end boresville with such notable landmarks as a skyline featuring Tower Bridge and The Ziggurat, also the film has the McKinley Rose Garden, the Tower Theatrenote , and near countless Fabulous Forties houses. New York briefly gets similar treatment when Lady Bird arrives there at the end of the film.
  • School Play: The school's theater group puts on performances of Merrily We Roll Along and The Tempest as Lady Bird's relationship with two of the actors, her friend Julie and her crush Daniel, develop in unfortunate ways.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Subverted. Lady Bird doesn't get into Berkeley despite her father and adopted brother being alumni. Her father points out that only works if the alumni donate money to the school, which they don't.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Gender-flipped with Miguel, who has a very grunge-y aesthetic, with lots of facial piercings that Lady Bird points out as probably getting in the way of a job offer. He inadvertently shows up to the same job interview Larry's going to, cleaned up with no piercings, and looks very handsome. He gets the job.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When Lady Bird angrily chews Kyle out for lying to her about being a virgin, Kyle starts to bring up war, only for Lady Bird to snap at him that other things can be sad and not everything needs to be compared to war.
  • Silent Treatment: Marion refuses to speak to Lady Bird after she learns Lady Bird applied to East Coast colleges behind her back, even though she only got waitlisted. She continues to hardly speak to her daughter until she drops her off at the airport, where she becomes distraught and regretful in the car.
  • Skyward Scream: After Lady Bird first kisses Danny, she does this in the middle of the street on the way home, just out of sheer joy.
  • Slapstick: An argument between Lady Bird and her mother upsets them both so much that Lady Bird dives out of the moving car and tumbles down the road.
  • Smash Cut: The shot of Lady Bird jumping out of the moving car, described above, immediately cuts to the cast she's now wearing on her arm after injuring it in the fall.
  • Speed Sex: Lady Bird's first time. She's downright disappointed when Kyle is already done.
  • Stargazing Scene: The film has a star gazing scene involving Lady Bird and her first love Danny. She asks him to pick a star for them and then they start cuddling. Afterwards, they discuss a name for their star with Danny suggesting "Claude" which Lady Bird finds too pretentious so she suggests "Bruce" instead.
  • Stern Nun: Subverted with Sister Joan. While she is strict at certain times, it's also made clear that she's very reasonable and cares very much about her students. She even reacts to Lady Bird and Jenna's "Just Married to Jesus" prank by admitting it was funny. Even the rebellious Lady Bird, who clearly doesn't take to authority well, ends up liking her.
  • Take That!: Part of Gerwig's love letter to her hometown involves taking shots at the dull unadventurous mildly conservative tone of Sacramento, including Lady Bird's description of it as "the Midwest of California" and the winner of an opening quote by fellow Sacramentan Joan Didion: "Anybody who talks about California hedonism has never spent a Christmas in Sacramento."
  • Their First Time: Lady Bird and Kyle have theirs though it's revealed Kyle was not only lying about being a virgin in the heat of the moment, but he's also lost count of the people he's slept with, much to Lady Bird's displeasure. Lady Bird is in a state of bliss until the truth is revealed, at which point she reveals she didn't actually have that great of a time.
  • Twisted Echo Cut: When Lady Bird accuses Julie to be a mistake her mother made when she was 19, the scene cuts to a pro-life speaker giving a lecture at the gym.
  • Unexpected Virgin: Subverted. The Troubled, but Cute, cool Kyle tells Lady Bird he's a virgin and is later revealed to have been lying.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: An extremely drunk Lady Bird vomits on the floor right as she's about to hook up with someone she's just met.
  • Wall Bang Her: After the kissing-by-the-pool scene, we cut to Kyle humping Lady Bird against a corridor wall.
  • Was Too Hard on Her: Granted, she never actually says it, but Marion's face just screams this as she drives away from the airport, with Lady Bird headed for New York.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Due to the film's structure as a slice of life from Lady Bird's point of view, we don't get the full details on some plot lines, and some reach no resolution by the film's end. What happens to Kyle's father with cancer, what becomes of Father Leviatch checking into a mental hospital, apparently for suicidal thoughts, or Lady Bird's struggle to get a job, have no resolution.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: Lady Bird lives literally on the wrong side of the tracks, as Danny learns when he comes to visit her. Lady Bird's family is significantly more working-class than her wealthier classmates.
  • Your Makeup Is Running: Christine's makeup has run all over her face when she wakes up at the hospital after she couldn't hold her liquor.

 
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Star Gazing in Lady Bird

Lady Bird and Danny pick their star

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Main / StargazingScene
Main / StargazingScene

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