Over the last decade geiger-counter readings of the Noah Baumbach-Greta Gerwig creative partnership have been steady and consistent, but over the last few weeks they’ve abruptly changed.
Over the last 14 or 15 years Baumbach has been the grade-A guy who made smart movies that the film festival elites loved or liked a lot — The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding, Greenberg, Frances Ha, While We’re Young, Mistress America, DePalma, The Meyerowitz Stories — but which the popcorn munchers have been less than roused about.
With Greenberg Gerwig began carving a rep as Baumbach’s spirited soul partner, and stepped out big-time with the brilliant, co-written Frances Ha (’12) and Mistress America (’15). With Ladybird (’17), which she directed and wrote, Gerwig connected with the swells as well as the ticket-buyers in a much bigger way ($78.6 million worldwide gross) than any Baumbach film has managed.
But now the tables have suddenly (or at least seemingly) turned with Baumbach’s Marriage Story receiving great pre-festival-season (is there another film that’s playing Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York?) while Gerwig’s Little Women, which has been testing for quite some time, is still being worked on and sidestepping the season.
Word around the campfire is that the first half meanders while the second half connects, and that Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh are the standouts.