Though she began her career with playwriting ambitions, Greta Gerwig soon skirted to fame as one of the preeminent actresses in “mumblecore” films. As led by the Amerindie filmmakers including Andrew Bujalski (Funny Ha Ha), Jay and Mark Duplass (The Puffy Chair), and Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes the Stairs), this movement of early-21st century American cinema relied on shoestring budgets and characterized itself via such elements as shaky, handheld photography, loosely strung narratives, and ultra-informal, from-the-hip dialogue that sustained the illusion of complete spontaneity.
Gerwig — a graduate of Barnard College and a longtime resident and habitué of Brooklyn, NY — first made her presence known in Swanberg’s 2006 LOL (as a girl who sends pictures of herself to an admirer via cell phone), but only rocketed to fame the following year, as the lead in the same director’s Hannah Takes the Stairs. In that feature, she fully evoked the complexities and contradictions of a young woman drifting through a long, hot Chicago summer and blithely but unsuccessfully attempting to fulfill her romantic yearnings. The picture (like LOL) immediately became a sensation and turned Gerwig into a screen favorite among enthusiasts of grassroots independent filmmaking.
In many ways, however, 2008 represented Gerwig’s breakthrough year — the year that witnessed her essaying supporting roles in two additional mumblecore features (Yeast and Baghead) and posing a triple threat as lead actress, screenwriter, and co-director (alongside Swanberg) on Nights and Weekends. This off-center romantic comedy stars Gerwig and Swanberg as two geographically estranged lovers grappling with the impracticalities of a long-distance relationship.