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Culture > Entertainment

I’m Just A Woman Written And Directed By Greta Gerwig

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USF chapter.

A love letter to Greta Gerwig’s magically feminine filmmaking.

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie release this summer caused an explosion of pink outfits, “Hi Barbie’s” exchanged with strangers, and shared reflections on girlhood on TikTok and all over social media. It filled movie theaters with viewers of all ages dressed in pink and made Greta Gerwig, who also directed Lady Bird and Little Women, the highest-grossing female director of all time, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That is enough to say that Barbie reached an incredible amount of people, and the fact that so many girls and women got to experience the magic of Greta Gerwig’s portrayal of female experiences fills me with joy every time I think about it. 

The first Greta Gerwig movie I watched was Lady Bird when I was 15. I loved it, but I was also extremely confused as to why a movie about a girl whose reality was so entirely different from mine felt so relatable to me (I did initially want to watch it because of my then newly discovered obsession with Timothée Chalamet, which might have unironically been my starting point to relating to Lady Bird.) I watched it again and again, until I could define exactly what made it so true to my own experience of girlhood.

It was Gerwig’s sensible and empathetic point of view of female experiences, which turns everything she writes into reality, that made Lady Bird relatable to me. None of her characters are ever stereotypical or two-dimensional. They are always so very real; I could feel Lady Bird’s feelings through the screen. Gerwig’s witty quotes hit you right in the chest every single time, and her monologues bring tears to your eyes because you might just have felt exactly like that at least once in your life (I’m looking at you, Jo March monologue), and Gerwig does a wonderful job at reminding you of that. 

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Gerwig’s talent goes beyond technicalities: her passion and genuine respect for each and every one of her characters make the empathy she has as a writer and director jump out of the screen, even for people who don’t know anything about her work. All the suffering, all the terrible parts of being a woman are not romanticized, never made pretty for commercialization; everything is portrayed free of the fake flawlessness commonly found in stories about teenage girls, and as awkwardly as in reality, in a way I’ve never seen anyone else do before. There’s comfort in seeing female stories under such a positive light through female characters who are complex and iconic but never manic pixie dream girls. 

In her article “Why We Need Greta Gerwig,” Lindsey Romain writes,“Gerwig loves these girls. Not just Lady Bird and Jo March, but all of the women in their orbit; Lady Bird’s friends, Jo’s sisters. She fills the frame – and therefore their worlds and ours – with splendor and importance. She validates their experiences by displaying them so typically” 

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Even before watching Barbie, I already knew I was going to love it. All my friends kept asking me what I would do if the movie was bad – because I was basically promoting it to everyone I talked about it with – but that was never a possibility for me. I trusted Gerwig to send me the same message, in essence, of her previous films: it’s okay to feel like this, it’s okay to be like this. There is no right way to be a woman, you can just be.

I have seen Lady Bird stumble to find her way through changing her name, choosing the wrong boys, and fighting with her mom while desperately craving her love. I have wanted to be “great or nothing” like Amy March, have felt out of place and restless like Jo, have aspired to have Beth’s kindness and Meg’s strength of heart, and seeing it all play out through Gerwig’s lenses brought a new light to how I see my own experiences and views of girlhood and womanhood every single time. And, most recently, I have also felt Barbie’s need to find out who she was for herself, free of other people’s expectations – and the fact that even Barbie, a literal doll, had her story told in a way that respected her feelings and experiences as a woman perfectly illustrates the very essence of Greta Gerwig’s filmmaking. 

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Whether she’s dancing through the streets of New York as the quirky Frances Ha (from Frances Ha, a film she co-wrote with Noah Baumbach) or wearing a prom dress to shoot the prom scene from Lady Bird, Gerwig is an inspiration in front of and behind the camera. Her clever but ever-kind approach to female stories and the brilliance and grace with which she handles the role of director are only a few of the reasons why her movies will always be magic to me. 

I am a freshman majoring in Mass Communications at USF Tampa, with dreams of working as a Journalist/Filmmaker someday. In my spare time, I enjoy reading and watching films and shows about complex female characters, screaming the lyrics to Taylor Swift songs, and getting coffee even though I'm not supposed to.