A Letter to Greta Gerwig

Dear Ms. Greta Gerwig,

I went to see Lady Bird in the theater yesterday. As someone who was only on the cusp of being 2 years old at the time the movie takes place, it was something that I went into thinking would be pretty different from the lives we live now; I was pleasantly mistaken.

It didn’t try to make teenagers look like superheroes, and it also did not try to make us look like dumbasses. You almost couldn’t, as the early 2000’s weren’t a time where people my age were thriving the way they are now. Nonetheless, we are people too, and you did your utmost best to not falsely elevate or degrade teenagers, but to simply say that we are. Suburbia is not 90210 and is not filled with Margo’s from Paper Towns. Yes, there are kids, smoking their first joints at the park at 10 pm, and kids skipping school, but there are also girls sitting on doorsteps waiting for college acceptance letters and test score packets, and people yearning for more than just a boy or a first kiss. You make us love Sacramento, simply because of the careful attention you pay to not turning the city into something artificial. Instead of you turning the city into a movie set, the city made itself into the set for you. This attention is surprising, because a lot of us don’t necessarily see our hometown as the place where we belong, and certainly aren’t in love with it for most of our youth (But aren’t they the same thing; love and attention?). Between the soundtrack choices, the scenery choices, the wardrobe choices- the direction of the movie is one that will be difficult to forget. From trailers, it was easy to assume that this would be just another movie us “quirky teens” would only be fans of, because it portrays us in the way we like to be seen: misunderstood.

Being a first generation first born, as well as just being a girl from the suburbs of New Jersey, I saw myself in a lot of Lady Bird’s struggles- the boy obsession, the never ending misconceptions of my music taste, the desires to go to school in New York, the money issues, the feuds with mom, the soft outcomes of feuds with mom, the attempts to ward off grimy Republicans, the bickering with best friends. But beyond this, I was able to look past and realize that all the moments my friends & I spend lusting over twenty-somethings, seemingly living their best lives in big cities without adult supervision and with bank accounts secured, and all those insignificant moments spent in parking lots echoing “I can’t wait to get out of here” between sips of soda, will be moments I will grow to miss when I leave this place. And that emotion doesn’t change, as we see in the film; the setting and company you’re in when you feel it just does.

To Sacramento natives, I imagine this is the love letter they could not bring themselves to write as they left their hometown in the “Midwest of California”. To everyone else, Lady Bird is an ode to home- to finding home in songs, in a used prom dress, in a new friends arms, in a church pew, or maybe, just maybe, a film.

Thank you for what you do, and the feelings you make people feel.

Your very sincere fan,

Jenna Elsetouhy

“‘Cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket, and the other one is hailing a taxi cab.”


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