Mistress America: 10 reasons to fall in love with Greta Gerwig
We here at Film Daily are massive advocates of Greta Gerwig. The buzz surrounding this multi-talented figure reached a peak with the release of her endlessly brilliant Oscar-nominated Lady Bird, starring Saoirse Ronan (Hanna) as a teenager trying to navigate herself through kidulthood in the unglamorous setting of Sacramento, California.
It was an absolute cinematic feat from the evidently witty & charming director, which is why we’re delighted at the news Gerwig is planning a series of Sacramento-based spiritual sequels to the film, inspired by the mysterious works of author Elena Ferrante.
While this is all fabulous news, we’re here to celebrate the actor / writer / director’s brilliance before Lady Bird. After all, Gerwig’s talent has shone through the screen for years, from her roles as one of the preeminent actresses in “mumblecore” films to her writing collaborations with director Noah Baumbach. Here are ten of Gerwig’s greatest gifts of on-screen glee.
The Dish & the Spoon (2011)
In this exquisitely charming indie love flick, Gerwig stars as a woman reeling over her husband’s infidelity. As she embarks on a journey to find her spouse’s lover, she collides with an English boy (Olly Alexander), who travels with her out of infatuation. What’s great about Alison Bagnall’s flick is it avoids all the tropes of a cliche boy-meets-girl kind of movie, with Gerwig’s performance making the tender drama all the more convincing.
As always, Gerwig brings quirky comfort in another quirky film alongside Danny DeVito (Batman Returns), Kieran Culkin (Igby Goes Down), and Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream). The story centers round a dachshund taken in by a veterinary technician named Dawn Wiener (Gerwig), who soon sets off on a road trip with a guy who’s on a quest to find crystal meth. What’s not to love?
The House of the Devil (2009)
Stepping out of her mumblecore pants and into her horror ones, Gerwig takes a different kinda role in Ti West’s The House of the Devil. Despite her relentlessly nonchalant vibe, Gerwig pulls off the performance as the protagonist and eventual victim’s (Jocelin Donahue) best friend with convincibility, even when she’s getting her face blown off.
Lola Versus (2012)
Gerwig has such a knack for depicting the charmingly human weaknesses we all secretly possess – in the case of Daryl Wein’s Lola Versus, she portrays the devastating aftermath of getting monumentally dumped. “My world is shattered and I’m eating.”
Coming to terms with being single and nearly 30, Gerwig’s character Lola decides to embark on a series of adventures she hopes will help soothe that aching heart of hers, and while there are some serious complications along the way, she eventually finds her feet.
Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007)
In her peak mumblecore role for the peak mumblecore director Joe Swanberg’s 2007 dramedy, Gerwig plays the neurotic, sweet, and mildly sarcastic Hannah. The movies sitting in this category are less known for their story and more for the low-fi production, improvised dialogue & plots, and fleeting conversations about huge epiphanies. Hence why this bathtub scene is the perfect example of both the mumblecore scene and Gerwig’s position in it.
In a film from mumblecore director brothers Mark & Jay Duplass, Gerwig stars as the kooky bombshell Michelle. Injecting new life into the horror genre, Baghead is a spin on the cabin-in-the-woods format, as four writers head into the woods to try and bang out a screenplay, only to discover their sinister plot starts to come true.
The best moment has to be this cringy yet endearing scene in which a drunk Chad (Steve Zissis) hits on a drunk Michelle. Needless to say, hilarity ensues.
Damsels in Distress (2011)
This wonderfully surreal and stunningly unique offering from Whit Stillman (Metropolitan) follows a trio of girls – led by Gerwig’s character Violet – as they set out to change the male-dominated environment of their college campus while rescuing their fellow students from suicide and depression via the art of tap dancing. If your mind isn’t blown by the end of this movie, it certainly will be once you watch the final dance scene.
Gerwig performs alongside Ben Stiller (Zoolander) in Noah Baumbach’s dramedy that perfectly encapsulates the development of a romance between two flawed characters. Gerwig sets the dramatic tone while also bringing high levels of her usual LOL kookiness to the mix. We’re pretty sure Gerwig dancing to “Uncle Albert” around her room drinking champagne during a personal crisis is all of us at some point in our lives.
Mistress America (2015)
Baumbach (The Meyerowitz Stories) & Gerwig teamed up to write the screenplay for this hectic comedy in which Gerwig’s character is a woman overflowing with charismatic energy so overpowering, it shadows her egocentric edge.
It’s hard not to fall for her zest for life and the same can be said for her newly-adopted infatuated sidekick – student Tracy (Lola Kirke). This film is a stunning example of Baumbach & Gerwig’s uncanny ability to make audiences laugh out loud with glee and cry from the feels all at the same time.
Frances Ha (2012)
In number one spot has to be this monochrome triumph (also from the co-writing talents of Gerwig & Baumbach) about a 27-year-old New Yorker who is far from having her shit together.
Despite her many flaws, Frances (Gerwig) somehow navigates through the tricky world of dancing and while she makes many mistakes along the way – including a savage BFF breakup and a pointlessly expensive trip to France. She works her way to the top, leading to a heartwarming ending that will make you sob with joy.