Greta Gerwig both should and shouldn’t become a major star. She should because she’s amazing and her talent ought to be recognized outside of the indie film world where she’s already a well-known and respected name. And she shouldn’t because if she did, she might not have time to make charming little one-off films like this one. She’s already starting to break into the higher levels of indies, with Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg and Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress under her belt (and a supporting role in the non-indie No Strings Attached, which I didn’t realize until looking her up right now), but she’s honestly at her best in things like The Dish and the Spoon. A group effort between writer/director Alison Bagnall (who has acted, like Gerwig, in a few Joe Swanberg films), writer Andrew Lewis, and actors Gerwig and Olly Alexander, the film is slight but somehow enchanting despite the standoffishness of the main character and a few odd plot turns.
The film opens with Gerwig driving down the freeway in pajamas and an overcoat, sobbing loudly. She stops at a convenience store for donuts and beer (yeah…) and has to scrounge change from the car to pay for, even then only managing because the clerk takes pity on her obviously pitiable state. She’s running away from the husband she’s just found out cheated on her. I mention so much detail in this opening scene because it’s the little moments, the scenes like this that are the most charming in the film, and provide the bulk of it. Not much actually happens, but the way each moment is treated makes it special. She stops at a lighthouse and comes across a young British guy sleeping there, having traveled to the US under somewhat false pretenses and found himself without a place to stay. The unlikely pair team up, her because he has money and she craves company, him because he finds her fascinating. They balance each other well, and their random interactions with each other are the highlight of the film – in fact, they’re the basis of the film, which was made after Gerwig and Alexander met, hit it off, and wanted to make a quick film together in between other projects.