The method of no method

Y’all seen “Greenberg” yet? If so, you were probably pretty impressed by Greta Gerwig’s performance as the film’s other protagonist, Florence Marr. Florence is unlike any female character in Noah Baumbach’s oeuvre: she’s neither pissy nor arrogant; she lacks a sense of entitlement, whether in her artistic work or in her social relations; and she doesn’t radiate an aura of cruelty, even one as latent as that of Laura Linney’s character in “The Squid and the Whale.” She’s lost, pure and weirdly virginal—despite her self-shaming gameness to hook up with relative strangers.

Florence is a complex character who works by virtue of the volume and quality of subtle work put into her by Gerwig and Baumbach. The Times’ A.O. Scott seems to agree, and I implore everybody who’s seen “Greenberg” to read his article from last Sunday’s paper; it’s an ode to Gerwig largely comprised of nuggets of intense praise. Exhibit A:

Ms. Gerwig, most likely without intending to be anything of the kind, may well be the definitive screen actress of her generation, a judgment I offer with all sincerity and a measure of ambivalence. She seems to be embarked on a project, however piecemeal and modestly scaled, of redefining just what it is we talk about when we talk about acting.

Hyperbolic as that may seem, Scott could be right. It’ll be very, very interesting to see what Gerwig—and Baumbach, for that matter—does next.


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