Review: Frances Ha
Frances, a dancer living in New York City in her late twenties, deals with the uncertainty of life when it comes to a career, having a place to live, and maintaining friendships. Passionate, carefree, yet stubborn, she bounds aimlessly in search for a path in life that will meet her halfway.
Who’s in it?
Greta Gerwig features in the best role of her young career as Frances, while Adam Driver and Michael Esper play a pair of friends who come and go in her life. Mickey Sumner (daughter of Sting), is Frances best friend and roommate with a future of her own she is looking to pursue.
A coming-of-age drama that has been compared to a particular HBO show of present day, and a particular Woody Allen film of yesteryear, fits into several standard categories but is a film in its own category. Contemporary settings and problems are given a timeless feel, and the black-and-white of the film stresses the intimate and universal hardships of our titular heroine.
Frances, whose last name is not Ha (you will learn eventually), lives with her best friend Sophie (they’re the same person, says Frances) and the two have the silliest of inside jokes and the strongest of connections, a fact demonstrated with ease in the first few moments. Sophie’s escalating relationship with her boyfriend, though, threatens the bond with Frances.
Meanwhile, Frances has just about hit the ceiling with the dance company where she works. Capping out on a job and perhaps even a friendship force Frances, a most empathetic figure, to bob and weave through life. She isn’t exactly sure what she should do, but she hopes she can keep moving with a degree of unpredictability and inhibition and surety that things will work out.
Money is an issue, of course. In a subtle and telling moment, Frances stares at an ATM asking her to pay a surcharge. She is waiting on money for rent, but at the same time okay to spend money she doesn’t have if it means she can escape her present groundlessness, and as a result, keep groundless. She refuses to let her predicaments with finance and friendships keep her exuberance in check, in one case eagerly spending a tax return she gets in the mail.
Written by Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, Frances Ha maintains an intimacy and universality that comes only from careful crafting. The jokes are wide-ranging, elicited from the physically ridiculous to the heartbreaking tragic and even the excruciatingly uncomfortable. Such is the life of Frances, who is neither a career-driven woman nor a lolling slacker; she, like so many others her age, are somewhere in between. She wishes to grow up slowly, edging into maturity and a job while looking to maintain a carefree childlike relationship with the world.
She is neither a quirky pixie nor a mean girl, driven not by a sense of entitlement or fate, seeking neither a dream job nor a husband. Fiercely individualistic and even oblivious, Frances is also representative of a generation of young adults. Thus, Frances Ha may be a potent film for the millennial generation.
Should I See It?
If you’re alive, in your twenties, and live some sort of artistic existence, all at the same time, then yes.
“Twenty-seven is old.” Well, it is.