(Poster of Ladybird, obtained from imdb)
“Lady Bird? Is that your given name?”
“Yeah. I gave it to myself. It’s given to me, by me” confidently exclaims the character of Lady Bird, whose real name is Christine McPherson and played by the captivating Saorise Ronan.
Her name is symbolic of her independent and individualistic nature, and is, as a Guardian article wrote, “part of her insistence on self-identifying in ways other than those imposed on her by family and school”.This felt highly relevant, growing up in Hong Kong, a place where it is common to come across people with unusual, or even strange self-given names. There’s even a blog that has been keeping track of unusual names in HK for almost 6 years, with “Orion Kong” being today’s name of the day (entry #2051). In a city where chokingly strict restrictions on appearance in schools still exist (hair must be tied up! Socks over the ankles! No make up!), it can be hard for teenagers to explore individualistic styles. Choosing one’s own English name is a way of asserting one’s identity.
The film centres around the relationship between Lady Bird and her mother, one that is full of loud and direct exchange of complaints, but also full of love. The most striking thing I found about their relationship is the honesty. Already in the opening scene, the pair argue over Ladybird’s will to study in the East Coast, “I want to go where culture is”, adamantly states Ladybird. Her mother is direct, and stinging in her replies, “You can’t get into those schools anyway”. After some more back-and-forth, an angered Ladybird ends the episode epically – by opening the car door and ejecting herself mid-journey. Whilst comical, this scene demonstrates how honest and hurtful both mother and daughter can be to each other. Far from negative, I believe it’s a great presentation of an alternative to “filial piety” , drilled into us an “ideal” model of the parent-child relationship.
Lady Bird is fast-paced film, a coming-of-age comedy which touches on universal themes of parental love, the itch to redefine yourself and to escape to where you believe grass is greener. It is a top contender for the Oscar award, but, it is not, as most people have mistaken, a tale of the director, Greta Gerwig’s life. Nevertheless, set in the city of Sacramento where Gerwig was raised, she says the film speaks of “a core of emotional truth that’s very resonant”. Watch it before it leaves the big screens!
Reporter: Delia von Pflug
Content Manager: Misun