My first introduction to indie queen Greta Gerwig was through the witty comedy Damsels in Distress. The film is an acquired taste but one thing’s for sure, Gerwig is magnetic as her character Violet, a dynamic college student who believes dancing can cure depression.
Since then I have found Gerwig mesmerising. She is a multi-talented actress, writer, and passionate dancer, who has captivated the independent film scene. She also starred in a stunning live music video with the band Arcade Fire. Now with the success of her directorial debut Lady Bird and her highly anticipated version of Little Women, she has firmly added critically acclaimed director to her repertoire.
Here are my top three films from her amazing career so far to inspire you with Greta greatness.
This genuine coming-of-age film is a stunning directorial debut by Gerwig, and a testament to her abilities as a filmmaker and writer. Set in the early 2000s in Sacramento, it follows Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson (played superbly by Saoirse Ronan) during her senior year in high school as she faces the challenges of adolescence, and strives to form her own identity. Written by Gerwig, and loosely inspired by her youth, the film stands as a love letter to her home town of Sacramento, California. The film features well written characters, an outstanding cast, memorable songs of the 2000s, and a beautiful score by Jon Brion.
Lady Bird has gone on to receive multiple awards and nominations, and has positioned Gerwig as a history-making filmmaker; she is only the fifth woman in history to be nominated for a Best Director Oscar.
20th Century Women
20th Century Women tells the story of Jamie, a teenage boy growing up in a bohemian household in 1979 in Santa Barbara, California. It focuses on three twentieth century women at different stages in their lives, all seen from Jamie’s point of view; his mother Dorothea, his best friend Julie, and Abbie portrayed by Gerwig. Abbie is a lodger in Dorothea’s house and a sister-like figure to Jamie; she is a freethinking feminist with David Bowie inspired hair, recovering from cervical cancer.
Gerwig is outstanding in this film; she delivers a passionate performance and brings an emotional depth to the character. Throughout the film, there is spirited dancing and air-punching from Gerwig that really captures her character’s mix of anger, melancholy, and joy.
Frances Ha was co-written by Gerwig and her partner Noah Baumbach; it features Gerwig at her dancing best. Beautifully shot in black and white by Baumbach, it tells the story of Frances, a free-spirited 27 year old dancer trying to make a living in New York, and the unravelling of her friendship with best friend Sophie. It’s a female-driven film that is non-romantic and doesn’t revolve around love; it focuses on a story of friendship.
Frances Ha is now considered a cult classic, and Gerwig’s earnest portrayal of Frances, plus her expressive dancing, makes it the role she was born to play.