Monday, July 1, 2013

Frances Ha: Movie Review


Frances moves in annoying circles and gives the film too little direction.
At first glance, Noah Baumbach seems to have taken a cue from Woody Allen with his latest, “Frances Ha”. It’s in black and white, with a classical and jazz music score, and it stars his new actress muse Greta Gerwig. In fact, co-written by her. But then the movie starts and it becomes clear why no critics were comparing him to Allen. It just doesn’t have the same feel or tone as a Woody Allen movie. I’ll use the term immature. 2012

Directed by: Noah Baumbach

Screenplay by: Noah Baumbach, and Greta Gerwig

Starring: Greta Gerwig

Greta Gerwig (Frances) and Mickey Sumner (Sophie)
Frances (Greta Gerwig) is 27; she’s at that age where you’re supposed to grow up, get a job, get a house and have your life-long friends established, but when her best friend moves out, Frances doesn’t have any of that. What people like about Frances and the movie is that it doesn’t stop her. She retains her optimism as she bounces from unclear life plan and unstable living arrangement. A quarter-life crisis comedy with hope and optimism rather than stress. It was an interesting choice but it doesn't help make Frances very endearing. I was ready for her to grow up sooner.

In her second apartment, Frances forms a connection with her cute roommate Benji (Michael Zegen), but she doesn’t see what’s right in front of her. She thinks she’s getting a job as a dancer, but she must not realize that they’re not opening up many new dance factories down the street. She does realize when people are looking down on her for her directionless life and this sparks a change in her. She decides to start acting spontaneously. I think now is a good time for the audience to start questioning her intelligence. If she thinks spontaneity is a good way to improve direction and structure in one's life, then I just don't get her at all. And this entire movie is her. Also leaving the film without much direction and structure.

We’re supposed to like her plucky attitude, enthusiasm for an undefined future, her optimism for living in the moment. And for the most part we do. It’s like Frances understands that we’re laughing at her which means we’re actually laughing with her, and that makes the comedy much more enjoyable. Gerwig also makes Frances more likable than she otherwise would be. When Frances falls down, Gerwig picks her up and she skips off to her next random stop in life.

“Frances Ha” is supposed to be a slice-of-life film for a girl suffering from a quarter-life crisis, but her life is so randomly put together, the film feels randomly put together. Frances may be fun, but that's it. The film is missing something if there was supposed to be a point to her life. Baumbach is a talented writer but it’s like he’s moving backwards while Frances is moving in circles.