My Two Favorite Parts of Ladybird
First: The part where everyone is complimenting and congratulating the performers at the school play on the way out, and the drama teacher says quietly “They didn’t get it.” We later find out that he’s depressed.
I just loved this part so much as an artist. The accolades you receive a lot of times are merely supportive. Supportive is not bad (and actually welcome!) but you know when someone has connected with what you’ve made when they become emotional.
When Ladybird tells her mom that she wishes her mom liked her, I think she felt a bit like the drama teacher felt about the play. I don’t feel like you get me. You’re in support of me (“of course I love you!”), you want me to be the best version of myself, but I don’t feel that you really cherish who I am right now. You don’t see my finer details. You don’t see the work I’m doing to be where I am right now (“what if this is the best version of myself?”).
You don’t get me.
And how appropriate is it to learn such a complicated lesson as a teenager? That distinction between people getting you and people merely being supportive of you? Anyone who has ever dared to publish, create, or put themselves in front of an audience with something totally original knows this distinction. In this film, Ladybird is her own piece of art as a human, from the color of her hair, or the attention to getting the right prom dress, right down to giving herself a name, and lamenting occasionally over the fact that we just adhere to the name our parents give us without any real contemplation.
I think when she calls her parents at the end and refers to herself as Christine (“a good name”), she’s admitting to them… maybe I didn’t get you either.
Maybe she realizes: I’m my own piece of art, but I’m also the byproduct of my parents. I’m their creation as much as I am my own, in a different way. And when her mom drives away from the airport in tears, you realize how true this is. It wasn’t the lying or the hiding of information, it was just the pure sadness of her daughter, someone she does in fact like, leaving to go to college. My mom got a bit like this when I left (even though I didn’t go very far).
My second favorite part of lady bird was the phone call to her mom at the end. When she talks being emotional driving in Sacramento. How the roads and shops she’d always known look and feel completely different now that she’s in the driver’s seat. She realizes what being a child means, or what it means to straddle childhood and adulthood simultaneously as high school senior.
It’s the perfect ending to the movie because it hands to you the emotions of both parties; Ladybird and her parents. It’s unresolved, intentionally, like a wistful song. It makes you realize, as the Pop Culture Happy Hour put it, that this movie is as much about her parents as it is about her.
I loved Ladybird but I’m glad not every movie makes me feel this way. One movie like this per season and I’m good. It’s just enough to remember what it’s important without it becoming background noise.