“Lady Bird” gracefully navigates the struggles of senior year

“Lady Bird” hit theaters Nov. 3, but has kept viewers coming back for more since. The coming-of-age film tells the bittersweet story of a seventeen-year-old girl trying to make it through her senior year at a Catholic high school.

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson deals with problems that most teenage girls in America can relate to: navigating the treacherous territory of high school boys, applying to college under the constant discouragement of adults working to keep the college search “realistic” and exploring new extracurriculars and people with the little time left in high school. Even the smallest details of Lady Bird’s life (writing her lovers’ names on her wall then crossing them off when things go south, cursing her math test, auditioning only to get a pathetic role in the school musical) are so relatable, the movie seems to be made for each audience member specifically.

In the midst of all Lady Bird deals with her senior year, her biggest problem of all is sorting out her relationship with her mother, a relationship that is clearly complicated. The movie opens with a sequence of Lady Bird and her mother on a college tour trip together; the two are seen sharing a bed, crying to an audiotape of “The Grapes of Wrath” and getting into an argument so infuriating that Lady Bird jumps out of the moving car. The complexity of this relationship is a central part of the movie; Lady Bird and her mother can’t seem to find common ground when it comes to college, what constitutes a “given name” or whether Lady Bird is considerate enough of her family, but the two share sweet mother-daughter moments.

Even for those who’ve moved past teenagehood, or for teenage boys who relate far less to the particular experience of being an American girl in high school, “Lady Bird” is worth the watch. Director Greta Gerwig finds a way to create beautiful shots (despite the movie’s low budget) that make the audience fall in love with Sacramento, Ca., even though Lady Bird detests it. Gerwig creates characters so round that it’s impossible to completely hate or love anyone, which makes “Lady Bird” even more pertinent to the adolescent experience.

Even better than the relatability of Lady Bird’s life and the beautiful cinematography, “Lady Bird” perfectly encapsulates the early 2000s, making it the best period piece about the decade we just recently left. The setting is particularly enjoyable because most of the target audience for “Lady Bird” lived through the early 2000s and notices the subtle cultural references that make the movie even sweeter. Paranoia about terrorism and technology are conversation topics between the characters (“Lady Bird” even hopes that fear of terrorism will up her chances of getting into New York City colleges), and smash hits “Cry Me A River” and “Crash Into Me” are blended so seamlessly into the soundtrack that the audience is taken right back to 2002.

“Lady Bird” will make your heart race, eyes water, jaw drop and money disappear. After just one viewing, you’ll want to see it again and again, noticing new details and getting to know the intricate, complicated characters a little bit better each time. Young or old, male or female, movie-watcher or book-reader, everyone has something to learn from “Lady Bird.” Go ahead, drop that $10 on the ticket, even if it is only to hear Saoirse Roman’s impeccable American accent.