When watching Greta Gerwig's 2017 Lady Bird many not-so-subtle themes inserted in the film went unrecognized. Yes, the film at the core was a coming of age story that touched on all the usual troupes such as rocky relationships, identity struggles, and self-discovery. But by looking a bit closer you see that a large portion of the film is used to critique income inequality, the wealth gap, and the way that it affects relationships in your life.
One of the first subtle hints that we get in the film about how Christine (Saoirse Ronan)feels about her family's financial situation would be when she refers to the neighborhood that she and her family lives in as “the wrong side of the tracks”. She comes up with this after the hours she spends staring and longing for the picturesque houses on the other side of the tracks.
The most prominent relationship in the film is a complicated one between Christine and her mother. As Gerwig states in an interview “I don’t know any woman who has a simple relationship with their mother or with their daughter”. For Christine and her mother, most of their problems stem from money and Christine’s longing for a life her parents can not afford. In their most emotional fight of the film, Christine screams at her mother while holding a note pad “Give me a number! You give me a number for how much it costs to raise me, and I’m going to get older and make a lot of money and write you a check for what I owe you so that I never have to speak to you again!”. In her reality, she is trapped by her family not able to be able to provide the things that she wants which is why she constantly tries to insert herself in an alternate reality.
So much of the way that Lady Bird lives her life is not in her control, she cannot control how much money her parents make, where they can live, and what they can afford. This is the root of her deteriorating relationship with her mother. She is angry and frustrated that she wasn't afforded the life of American elitism similar to her classmates. By attending a wealthy private school she is constantly taunted by the lives of the kids in her class, a life that she can't have.
Christine is constantly rejecting things that show any similarity to her mother and the way she lives her life. This is why she begins to escape her reality by renaming herself “Lady Bird”.While creating this new reality she begins to lies to her peers at school about her family and where they live. She ultimately is ashamed of her life. When thinking this we see the way the movie portrays wealth. It shows us how we live in a deeply engraned capitalistic society, and Christine is un blamingly falling towards it.