This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie/series/feature being covered here wouldn't exist.
BY BECCA JOHNSON JULY 25, 2023
When discussing Barbie, its best features and our excitement for it, many are commenting on Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, the costuming, the use of pink and the banging soundtrack – and rightly so. However, outside of the film community, many may not realise who Greta Gerwig is and what she had to offer before the release of Barbie.
An America actress, playwright, screenwriter AND director, Gerwig has been working in the film industry since the 2000's. She often collaborates with husband Noah Baumbach, not only writing alongside him but starring as the lead in his directorial efforts. Join us as we recommend six movies outside of Barbieland that feature Greta Gerwig as a director, actor or writer.
Lady Bird (2017) – Director and Writer
Gerwig's solo directorial debut is a fantastic coming-of-age dramedy starring Saoirse Ronan in the lead role. She plays a Californian high school student who wishes to go to college in New York, despite her Mother's disapproval and money troubles. Throughout the duration of the movie, we see Lady Bird navigate through the ups and downs of her relationships, especially the one between her and her Mother, whilst trying to become popular and be accepted into her dream school.
Little Women (2019) – Director and Writer
It's not the first adaptation of the much-loved classic novel, but it may just be the best. Gerwig's Little Women, starring Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Timothee Chalament, Laura Dern and many, many more understands, elevates and slightly modernises the source material to discuss the complexity of a woman's place in the world. Little Women follows four sisters who come of age in America during the aftermath of the Civil War.
Frances Ha (2012) – Writer and Lead Actress
In this flick directed by Noah Baumbach and co-written by Baumbach and Gerwig, we follow an aspiring dancer who moves to New York City and winds up caught in a whirlwind of fair-weather friends, diminishing fortunes and career setbacks. Although she's not really a dancer, she throws herself into her dream and apprentices for a dance company. Inspired by the French New Wave, it strives to show the difficulty of adulthood.
20th Century Women (2016) – Supporting Actress
Despite hosting a slew of strong female performances from stars including Annette Bening and Elle Fanning, Gerwig and her character truly stand out and it may just be her best acting turn. Set in 1979 Santa Barbara, we follow a single Mother in her mid-50's who is raising her adolescent son during a moment of change and rebellion. She enlists the help of two younger women – including Gerwig, a free-spirited punk artist – to help with his upbringing.
White Noise (2022) – Lead Actress
White Noise is another flick directed and written by her husband, Noah Baumbach. This Netflix Original follows Jack Gladney (Adam Driver), professor of Hitler studies and husband to Babette (Greta Gerwig), whose family is torn asunder by a chemical spill from a railcar that releases an 'Airborne Toxic Event'. This forces Jack and Babette to face their ultimate fear – their own mortality. The wacky script that explores existentialism is at the forefront, but Gerwig shines nonetheless.
Mistress America (2015) – Writer and Lead Actress
You guessed it, another Baumbach feature. This time around, we follow Tracy (Lola Kirke), a lonely college freshman in New York City who is rescued from her solitude by soon-to-be stepsister Brooke (Gerwig). Gerwig plays a gal about town who entangles Tracy into alluring, mad schemes. It's a hilarious flick that again explores Baumbach and Gerwig's favourite themes – midlife crises, anxiety, fear of ageing and career worries.