In an article about Greta Gerwig, a portrait of the director sits inside the format of the recent Barbie film's movie posters.
Illustration by Isabelle Hardy, University of the Arts

Greta Gerwig Didn’t Invent Womanhood; She Perfected It

With numerous cinematic hits under her belt, young filmmaker Greta Gerwig has quickly mastered the art of directing.

Filmmaker, director, actress and screenwriter — when it comes to Greta Gerwig, the list of her accomplishments goes on and on. Gerwig’s oeuvre of scathingly honest coming-of-age films has solidified her position as one of the great screenwriters and directors of the 21st century. With her range of on-screen performances to her immersive directorial work, it’s no wonder fans have continued to follow her work. At this point in her career, she has many notable films under her belt as well as multiple new pictures in production. One of the best aspects of Gerwig’s filmography is its ability to capture the nuances and contradictions inherent to womanhood. Her depiction of the female narrative is wildly relatable for female viewers, and entices them to watch her films.

Gerwig’s characterization of Saoirse Ronan’s character Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a troubled teenager at the cusp of adulthood, has solidified her sophomore directorial work as a fan favorite. One of the biggest insights into Gerwig’s work is her own charismatic, bubbly personality. Behind the scenes, the director’s chemistry with the cast is palpable. Its script is beautifully written as well, its realistic dialogue makes each scene feel organic. One of the greatest aspects of the film’s plot is the complexity of Lady Bird’s relationship with her mother. Gerwig’s incredible talent as a screenwriter and director can be felt through the energy of this film.

One of the most successful book-to-film adaptations is Gerwig’s interpretation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel, “Little Women.” Though many consider the 1994 film to be the most faithful adaptation of the book, Gerwig’s version offers a fresh perspective on the beloved novel. Released in 2019, the A24 remake includes notable faces such as Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh and Timothee Chalamet. Gerwig’s version — which deviated slightly from its source material — delivered a performance that was intentionally unsatisfying. The film’s exploration of individuality illuminates the dissatisfaction and disillusionment that young women experience when their life’s purpose is confined to the pursuit of romance and matrimony. In Gerwig’s version, she presents the anticlimactic woes of Jo’s marriage to Friedrich Bhaer as well as Laurie’s marriage to Amy (something the previous adaptations shied away from). Unlike earlier adaptations, which have been criticized for romanticizing problematic characters, Gerwig’s interpretation of the March sisters’ story stays true to the novel.

Presently, Gerwig only has four directorial works to her name, including an unreleased film — her modest repertoire makes her success all the more impressive. She has, however, worked as an actress in a number of roles in movies and television shows. From quick cameos in “The Mindy Project” to her appearance in “Jackie,” Gerwig is more than just a directorial genius. Just last year, the actress starred in the Netflix original “White Noise” alongside Adam Driver and Don Cheadle. Although the audience’s reception of the film was generally poor, the film was nonetheless a brave attempt by an ambitious filmmaker. One of her most well-known roles is in “Frances Ha,” which was released under IFC Films. The black-and-white comedy film tells the story of a struggling dancer.

Comparable to other prestigious directors, Greta Gerwig has her own niche and has rapidly created a unique fan base that follows her work. Her next film remake is Disney’s “Snow White,” and although this particular story has been retold countless times, fans should trust that Gerwig will put a creative spin on it and produce a film worth everyone’s while. At this point, her previous works speak for themselves and are enough to build great anticipation for her future in the film industry. Her spin on each story she produces speaks volumes about what she can do as an actress, screenwriter and director. Gerwig’s interpretations of many well-known narratives and her own screenplays are evocative and tasteful. Her movies’ last impressions have left many viewers speculating about what else is in store for her next upcoming film.

From the beginning of Gerwig’s career in 2006 to the present day, she has directed many groundbreaking works. In a short span of time, the multitalented filmmaker has greatly contributed to the cinematic world. While not many women-led films have been recognized in the history of cinematography, Gerwig’s works are too enticing to overlook. Pictures like “Lady Bird” and “Little Women” have previously been nominated by the Academy for major awards, and an Oscar win for the female director seems to be written in the stars. Meanwhile, the greatly anticipated “Barbie” film is set to be released at the end of July of 2023. Gerwig’s fanbase, Barbie lovers and anyone who’s seen the movie’s dazzling new trailer will be able to witness her magic this July. With such a mean track record, she is sure to deliver something spectacular. Gerwig’s masterful portrayal of the contradictions, joys and pitfalls of femininity resonate with women everywhere. While no one quite knows what’s next in her career, if ‘Greta Gerwig’ is in the credits, it’s sure to be good!

Ally Najera, California State University, Northridge


Ally Najera

California State University, Northridge
Broadcast Journalism, Minor in Marketing

I am currently studying broadcast journalism and minoring in marketing. I read religiously and love watching films. I am very passionate about words. I live and breathe pop culture – and love to share my thoughts.

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