Greta Gerwig’s City of Women

On Film / Short Takes — Aug 31, 2015
Greta Gerwig

“When you’re writing a screenplay, it’s like you’re dreaming the film for yourself again and again and again until it becomes almost like a memory before you make it,” says writer and actor Greta Gerwig in a new interview in Dazed magazine. We were crazy about the results of that deeply internalized approach in 2013's Frances Ha, Gerwig and Noah Baumbach’s first collaboration as both coscreenwriters and star and director, and were excited to see it again in their new film, the screwball-inflected Mistress America. A romance about a female friendship in New York City, Frances gave a new dimensionality to the off-kilter rhythms and nuanced emotionality Gerwig had been employing to charming effect for years as a favorite of the independent American screen. And “it really had nothing to do with men at all,” as Gerwig tells Dazed. “I wanted to make another one like that . . . I’m just interested in all of the configurations of the ways women relate to each other—peer to peer, older to younger, mothers and daughters, sisters, groups of women, professionally . . . In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf talks about how men can’t write about what women do alone because they’re not there . . . That’s the world that I feel some ability to report back on.”

The relationship at the center of Mistress America is also formed in New York; this time it’s between stepsisters-to-be, played by Gerwig and Lola Kirke. Gerwig’s character, Brooke, really showcases her fearlessness as a comic performer, being more confident, less self-aware, and zanier than Frances, if no less emotionally intense—“You only get one life, so you might as well feel all the feelings,” says the actor.