Every generation needs new films to capture that nostalgic feeling of growing up, and for those who were trapped in high school in the early 2000’s, Lady Bird is exactly that. From the mean kids in fancy houses to the theatre fanatics off in the corner, you’re bound to find something that hits close to home. The same can be said for parents of those moody high schoolers, with the core dynamic of the film centering around the complicated relationship between mother and daughter.

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The film, written and directed by Greta Gerwig in her directorial debut, centers around Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), known better by the name “Lady Bird” (given to her by herself) as she tries to make it through her Catholic high school upbringing. While she struggles with keeping her best friendship intact (the up-and-comer Beanie Feldstein) and finding love with the likes of Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Timothée Chalamet (Call me by Your Name, Hostiles), she also faces the biggest challenge of all: family. As Lady Bird tries to navigate her turbulent relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) and comfort her struggling father (Tracy Letts) all while trying to get into a New York college, we see a film that is funny, tragic and relatable all at once.

One of the greatest triumphs of Lady Bird is how effortlessly the film seems to balance emotion with comedy. The film manages to be dramatic and at times heartbreaking without being the kind of tear-jerker many expect from Oscar-nominated films (no doubt due to Gerwig’s experience as an actress and writer). Capturing a contained slice of life where the little things seem catastrophically big, there’s enough drama packed into this small-town story to stand tall with the other big dramas of the last year.

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While Gerwig’s turn from in front to behind the camera is a big part of the film’s success, Lady Bird wouldn’t be the breakthrough it is without the talented young cast that she’s helped pass the torch down to. The most notable performances are from Ronan in the titular role and Metcalf as her begrudgingly supportive mother, but Chalamet, Hedges and Feldstein all do a fantastic job of shaping the detailed and complicated world surrounding Lady Bird.

Much like real life, Lady Bird is littered with smaller character parts that pop in and out, adding depth to the overall world without taking away too much from the core story. From Lady Bird’s fellow students and the catholic staff at her school – including a warm, caring priest and a theatrically confused gym teacher – to the various Sacramento residents, these small parts helped create and in-depth world within the film. While many other films would be weighed down by these appearances, Lady Bird doesn’t dwell too much on them, allowing them to add character and charm to an already bustling life.

An irresistibly charming look at life on the wrong side of the tracks, Lady Bird perfectly showcases the perils of growing up. Despite its specific setting in Sacramento 2002, it’s a film relatable to anyone who’s conquered their home town and lived to tell the tale.

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