Was Lady Bird beginner’s luck? Not on your life. The stirring Little Women is arriving soon and confirms the talent of the great Greta Gerwig.
Because there wasn’t a single arts school that would admit Greta Gerwig, she abandoned the plan in 2006 and decided to become a playwright. She studied English and philosophy at Barnard College, a women’s university in New York. In the meantime, she collaborated on a series of improvised and mumbled no-budget films that were labelled mumblecore. She acted, came up with storylines, held the camera, or worked as a boom operator. Mumblecore acquired esteem and Gerwig became the cute face of the movement. Hannah Takes the Stairs came to the attention of none other than Noah Baumbach. The director of The Squid and the Whale (and now also Marriage Story) coupled Gerwig with Ben Stiller in the dramedy Greenberg. She worked miracles with the generally lame role of a sweet girl and conquered Baumbach’s heart. In 2012, the couple released Frances Ha, an Annie Hall for and starring millennials.
Roles in Mistress America by Baumbach, Jackie by Pablo Larraín, and 20th Century Women by Mike Mills confirmed Gerwig’s status as the muse of alternative American film. The only thing is that she did not want to inspire but create. The incredibly hard worker wrote and directed a film about the turbulent relationship between a mother and a spirited daughter who yearns for a grander life. Lady Bird was hailed by the film press and was nominated for five Oscars.
Its follow-up Little Women – the compelling adaptation of the 19th-century novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott – might do even better. Four competitive, talented sisters are preparing their futures in an age in which women had disturbingly few options. Period dramas are rarely so lively and relevant.