There are a few actors whose prowess stems in equal measure from their training or innate talent, and from their physiognomy. In the past we had Humphrey Bogart and Anna Karina. Today, Denis Lavant is one of those actors. Adam Driver also comes to mind. Greta Gerwig, with her lanky figure and mesmerizing expression, belongs to a category all her own.
There’s a particular quality that comes to life when she moves. The movement might be as slight as bend in the lips, or as large as a star-figured jump in the air. Both are, in equal measure, unmistakably hers.
Throughout her career, Gerwig has worked with directors who’ve captured her physicality by letting the film run long enough to capture the uniqueness of her movement. It took Joe Swanberg the entirety of LOL (2006) and 20 minutes of Hannah takes the Stairs (2007) to ask Gerwig to dance in front of the camera. This can only be explained by the director’s inexperience at the time. Noah Baumbach never made the same mistake, filming her twisting, twirling, and swirling, or just slightly bobbing for 17 seconds, to the tune of Paul and Linda McCartney’s “Uncle Albert”. Even for her small role in No Strings Attached (2011), Ivan Reitman had the good sense to shoot two scenes where Greta’s dancing held center stage.
In Greta Moves, I endeavored to find patterns in the movements throughout her filmography, interweaving them with an abundance of match cuts. To create a dance tapestry that heightened those connections, the piece of music was fundamental. The inspiration for that choice—as well as the structure of the video essay—came from Wim Wender’s Pina (2011). The work was built almost entirely around the second performance in the movie and the lovely melody of Jun Miyake, “The Here and After”.