Before this week, the films of New York writer/director Noah Baumbach threatened to pigeonhole him as a grim observer of embittered human behavior. Then the 43-year-old invited 29-year-old actress Greta Gerwig to co-write a script with him. Frances Ha, the result that opens in Miami today, pitches a shimmering curveball into his filmography, most recently known for Ben Stiller's misanthropic turn in Greenberg and Nicole Kidman's cruel mother in Margot at the Wedding. With Frances Ha, Gerwig has brought out in Baumbach a lighter touch that has no equivalent in his oeuvre.
It's easy to understand how it happened. Even speaking over the phone from New York, Gerwig exudes a luminous quality. When she laughs, it takes up both exhale and inhale. One cannot help but wonder if she, who is now Baumbach's girlfriend, had a part in bringing some brightness into his work, but she refuses to take any credit. "It's equal parts him and me, but it's also something we could have only made together," she explains.