“Lady Bird” is nom­i­nated for an Oscar. | Imdb

While wholly novel in its approach, director Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age debut “Lady Bird” seems so well-known, per­sonal, and honest that it’s con­sidered an instant classic. “Lady Bird” is an era-defining story — in the same cat­egory as the “The Graduate,” “The Breakfast Club,” and “Garden State” — that will have a sim­i­larly enduring impact on those who grew up in the early 2000s. This film’s raw sim­plicity and dis­tinctly fem­inine per­spective have endeared it to the hearts of many and allow it to be con­sidered a mas­terwork.

The Oscar-nom­i­nated film follows the bold Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a defiant young woman who is deter­mined to break free of the con­fines of sub­urban Sacra­mento and plunge into the met­ro­politan by attending college out East  “where writers live in the woods.” She feels limited by her hometown, her over­bearing mother, and her Catholic high school, which she lov­ingly dubs “Sacred Fart.” Yet, as she pre­pares to graduate, Lady Bird explores her rela­tionship with her family and hometown with a realism and vul­ner­a­bility rarely seen on film.

“Lady Bird” moves at the pace of life. All at once it seems as if nothing is hap­pening, yet things are whirling by — each moment is cap­ti­vating and seems to blur into the next. As she nav­i­gates her senior year, Lady Bird deals with first loves and losses. She battles inse­curity and comes to terms with who she is. Audi­ences watch as a young girl crawls her way into adulthood, holding on to much of her past as she moves forward.

As much as Lady Bird dis­misses her hometown with the ferocity of a restless teenager who’s aching to expe­rience life, her groundswell of love for the town and those in it becomes apparent throughout the film. She walks through neigh­bor­hoods and care­fully selects her dream home. She stops to catch the views of the freeways when she can.

With two strong women at its center, and another strong woman helping the film, the per­spective of “Lady Bird” is achingly relatable to anyone who has been a 17-year-old girl or a mother. Despite how she and her mother nag each other, the film opens on them sharing a bed together. The pair are later seen weeping with one another over a cas­sette audiobook of “The Grapes of Wrath.” Though there is much vitriol between them at times, it is the under­lying ten­derness between them that heightens the bitter moments. This film dives into this com­plexity without exploiting it for drama.

What makes Lady Bird so special is how it treats its char­acters. The per­for­mances within this film are so raw and subtle, the char­acters feel like com­plete human beings. Each char­acter within the film has a voice and dis­tinct purpose, no matter how minor the role. We meet a depressed priest, a humorous nun, and a handful of charming minor char­acters — each with his or her own message.

Life is examined so elo­quently and ten­derly in this film that “Lady Bird” hits nearly every emotion you can feel. “Lady Bird” will make you laugh, cry, feel nos­talgic, and long for home. It’s an incredibly original and real­istic film that poignantly paints what it feels like to be sev­enteen.