Release Date: May 17, 2013 (Limited)
Director: Noah Baumbach
MPAA Rating: R
You walk off that stage with a college degree in hand, ready to conquer the world. You pursue your dreams working in the field you’ve wanted to for most of your life. Your life couldn’t be any better, could it? Can it? Well no one ever said life is easy and it’s a hard truth that many of us have to face; sometimes we’re too oblivious to even notice or perhaps overly optimistic. Now what if you’re doing what you got your degree for and you’ve simply gone nowhere with it and your life seems to be on autopilot or worse, rudderless. Noah Baumbach’s latest film Frances Ha takes an honest, funny, poignant look at this predicament.
Frances is a cute and quirky 27 year old living in the Big Apple. She can be amusing and perplexing as she sometimes rattles on about people in her life to people she barely even knows. She’s living with her best friend Sophie. Frances is happy even though she doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere with her career and her love life is nothing to brag about. One day the unthinkable happens and she is thrust into a position that would cause most people undue amounts of stress. However, Frances trudges forth taking it as it comes while still maintaining her endearing demeanor.
Shot in black and white the film feels like Baumbach just followed these people around, captured what he could and edited together an honest and realistic story. You can recognize many situations that you yourself have perhaps been through or have witnessed. The awkward blind date. The uneasy dinner with a friend’s family. The relief felt when home with family or the mad dash to an ATM because a restaurant doesn’t accept debit cards. There are numerous relatable situations present in this film written by Baumbach and star Greta Gerwig. Don’t be surprised if they are nominated for an Academy Award this year.
All of the performances are very natural and real. Much of the film feels improvised which can be attributed to Baumbach’s directing, the screenplay and the actors. Greta Gerwig carries the film as Frances. She is captivating, endearing and quite funny. She is really good during a dinner scene with the family of a friend she is staying with. These people don’t really know who she is and she continues to prattle on about people they don’t know. What is so great about this is that Frances may not realize she’s doing it but she does realize that she’s done it again. She knows herself and is comfortable with herself and through hell or highwater she believes she will some how make it and as an audience we do too.
Frances Ha is a great slice-of-life dramedy that will likely put a smile on your face at the end. It’s well written, directed, acted and features memorable characters. While it doesn’t have the resonance of the excellent The Squid and the Whale it is still quite enjoyable.