Movie Review - Frances Ha

Noah Baumbach directs and co-writes this New York-based, serious comedy about a 20-something woman having a bit of a quarter-life crisis. She loses her boyfriend. She loses her roommate and best friend. She loses her job. She loses her place to live and she loses her direction in life, not saying that she had much of one to start. It stars Baumbach's co-writer Greta Gerwig as Frances, a 27-year-old, aspiring dancer who is most likely the love child of Sally Hawkins' character in Happy-Go-Lucky and Jason Schwartzman's character in Rushmore. There are perhaps influences here from Mike Leigh in the writing, but, in terms of production and cinematography, ever since Baumbach worked with Wes Anderson in The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson's influence on Baumbach is what stood out here.

Baumbach either shoots this film in black-and-white or he converted it to black-and-white after the fact. It gives the movie an old world and classical feeling. While Baumbach doesn't utilize the beauty of the black-and-white aesthetic, such as contrasting light and dark or emphasizing shadow unlike Michel Hazanavicius in The Artist or Francis Ford Coppola in Tetro. He instead uses it as a way of stripping the movie down to a kind of bare minimum in order to focus the audience on the characters.

Baumbach and Gerwig explore an issue that has been the subject of a number of films, including the majority of the Mumblecore movies. Frances is in a kind of arrested development. Essentially, it's about 20 or 30-something-year-old people who have some growing up still to do. We've seen many movies about the man-child. This one is about this woman-child named Frances.

Instead of doing serious adult things like getting a more stable place to live, or focusing on her career, she wants to play with her friend Sophie, played by Mickey Sumner, or drift from here to there. Her preference is to be attached to the hip to Sophie, and do everything together with her. Frances describes her relationship with Sophie as being like a lesbian couple that doesn't have sex. When Sophie leaves, Frances spins out into space with almost no purpose.

It's great to see the relationship between Frances and Sophie and what it says about Frances. Frances is in love with Sophie, but it's questionable if it's all together healthy or if it's a weird obsession. It's questionable if Sophie feels as strongly for Frances as Frances feels for Sophie.

There's a loneliness and indecisiveness to Frances, which is oddly relatable. In a way, this movie shares an aspect to Keith Miller's Welcome to Pine Hill, which comes down to a character having to be alone in order to find herself. The circumstances of Welcome to Pine Hill are vastly different, but I like how both observe their protagonists.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated R for sexual references and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 25 mins.


Popular Posts