Last night I sat down and watched Ladybird for the first time. And I might say I’m impressed. Being a sucker for nostalgia that I am this movie was strangely a time pod back to the past, taking us all the way to the year 2002. A year I barely remember as I must have been six years old but still strangely familiar. I’m talking indie rock bands, passing notes in class, failed exams, oh, and trying to be popular!
Yes Ladybird has it all and it follows an adolescent schoolgirl named Christine who goes by the name Ladybird. A name she’s given herself to identify herself. A way of creating her stamp on the world. No doubt Ladybird is misguided and naive. She dreams of going away to college on the east coast. It’s a dream that sustains her throughout the movie.
Often though, to challenge her on these kinds of ideas is her mother, Marion. Ladybird has a gentle supporting father but a sometimes witchy, sometimes lovable mother. Some of us can relate to the whole good parent, bad parent thing. I think many seeing this relationship would think this is a typical mother-daughter relationship and I even found myself drawing parallels to my own life. However, I think the relationship that exists between these two in the movie borders on abuse.
Often her mother puts her down by insulting her intelligence and telling her she’s not fit to do this or that. I think the relationship is a lot more about control than anything else. That is why you see Ladybird manipulating people to get close to them. This must be learned behavior. Later Ladybird gets exposed as a fraud and it all comes crumbling down.
This world that we are seeing is way too real. Everything feels reminiscent of a time when all we had to do was worry about school. Everything about this movie feels shockingly familiar. Everything. Some even served as painful reminders of how cruel I could be. Like in one scene where Ladybird is ditching her best friend to fit in with the cool kids.
The only thing that made it all the more different was the catholic school setting. Which I still found somewhat familiar as I grew up going to catholic church. Everything else was right on the money in terms of what life was like back then.
One particular scene that floored me was when Ladybird had hid the fact that she had applied to schools on the east coast and her mom inadvertently finds out. Ladybird is on the verge of groveling and begging her mom for forgiveness saying “I shouldn’t have wanted more for myself.” It was particularly hard to watch and sets up the dynamic between them well.
In the end Ladybird goes off to college in the east coast and makes a mess of things. Finds herself looking for something familiar in a catholic church. Something that reminds her of home. She resorts to calling her mom and leaving her a voicemail and the movie ends with “I love you.”
I feel like love was a big theme in the movie. The love or lack thereof between Ladybird and Marion. Ladybird looking for love in different boyfriends. The love of friendship that she rekindled with her old best friend.
This movie was a sobering look at how we deal with relationships and the pain and torment that can come along with that. It was all too familiar in its setting but the setting wasn’t its focus. The focus was a person. The titular, Ladybird.
I recommend this movie for film lovers and especially people from ages 22-30. I think they will really enjoy this nostalgic blast from the past. I give it an 8/10.