SXSW '11 Review: The Dish and the Spoon

· Joanthan Poritsky

Greta Gerwig’s performance in Alison Bagnall’s The Dish and the Spoon proves she is not just one of the best actresses of our time, but of any time. She has the straightforward wit of Katherine Hepburn, the unflinching comedic backbone of Lucille Ball, the mysterious grace of Meryl Streep…I could go on. She is not the only phenomenal aspect of the film, but it’s worth being said and said again: Gerwig is great and must finally be shared with the entire moviegoing world.

In Dish, she plays Rose, a woman on the lam after her husband admits to cheating on her. It’s clear Rose has been closely guarded her whole life, rarely having to fend for herself as she does on her week-long wander through a Delaware beach town in winter. While trying to find drunken solace in lighthouse, she happens up a wayward British boy, played by Olly Alexander, whom she fears is ill. After lugging his sleeping body into her car, he refuses her offer to take him to the hospital and the two become fast, if awkward, friends.

What ensues are a series of beautiful moments which inform each characters' back story and emotional makeup. Bagnall masterfully makes use of her actors in Dish. In the film’s culmination, a colonial dance that ends in a violent confrontation, the director holds back, utilizing the space of the dance studio to build up to a moment of realization. It is a time bomb that only we are privy to, and when it goes off, it is beautiful, painful.

I can’t recommend The Dish and the Spoon highly enough. Gerwig, who had a lead role in Noah Baumbach’s 2010 Greenberg is about to reach her widest audience alongside Russell Brand in the upcoming Arthur. Hopefully, that will lead people back to The Dish and the Spoon so they can see what she is capable of when let loose on an interesting character.