The Charm, Power, and Sweet Dance Moves of Greta Gerwig

A tribute to one of American film’s most independent voices.
By  · Published on June 22nd, 2017

A tribute to one of American film’s most independent voices.

Greta Gerwig is an indie-film multi-hyphenate of the highest order. She acts (Baghead, The House of the Devil, Greenberg, Jackie, 20th Century Women), she writes (Hannah Takes the Stairs, Frances Ha, Mistress America), she directs (Nights & Weekends, upcoming Lady Bird), and I’m betting she can do just about anything else that needs doing on a movie set.

Gerwig emerged from the mumblecore movement of the mid-aughts in films by the likes of Joe Swanberg and the Duplass Brothers, and in the approximate decade since, she has established herself as a fresh and brazen talent who is as universally-relatable as she is impossible to typecast. This is because, I believe, Gerwig’s appeal isn’t just based on the affably-quirky and fiercely-independent deployment of her various skills in pointedly character-driven narratives, but also on her dramatic kinship to classic, Old Hollywood actors. Gerwig has the charm and poise of Grace Kelly, the girl-next-door amiability of Audrey Hepburn, the whipsmart intelligence of Katherine Hepburn, and the dichotomous unflappable vulnerability of Shirley MacLaine, all translated into a contemporary context and housed under an umbrella of the uniquely-21st-century struggle between self-doubt and moxie. Gerwig’s characters are timeless but rooted in the context of their situations, they are fragile but will not be broken, they are headstrong but not hard, and they are every woman we know and yet somehow wholly individual, broken-mold heroines who charm their way into our movie hearts by the sheer force of their being, of their reality, and of their aching humanity.

Gerwig also really likes to dance.

To prove all the above points – her charm, her power, her sweet dance moves – check out the following ode to Gerwig edited by Jake Cunningham that features clips from five films (Maggie’s Plan, Frances Ha, Damsels in Distress, Mistress America, and 20th Century Women) and one music video (Arcade Fire’s “Afterlife,” directed by Spike Jonze) all set to the instant party that is David Bowie’s “Modern Love.”

If you’re not in love with Greta Gerwig by now, you’re about to be, and that’s the first step towards getting you where you need to be: in awe of her.

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