Sunday, June 30, 2013

Frances Ha (2013)

Seen: At the Kendall Square Landmark Cinema in Cambridge.

I've seen most of his films, but I've never really warmed up to Noah Baumbach. I think he's a great writer with the ability to tap into some ugly emotional drama and humor, but his films and characters are always so mean, I just can't fully get into them. I was excited for his second team-up with Greta Gerwig, since she was the best part of Greenberg, and I'd heard it had lady friendships (!), so Frances Ha was a must-see. Gerwig stars as a 27-year-old dancer who's struggling in relationships and career choices but finds comfort in her close friendship with roommate Sophie (Mickey Sumner). When Sophie moves out and starts seriously dating a guy Frances doesn't like, our star finds herself moving through various living situations and job fluctuations, trying to make sense of her life as an educated but unemployable and "undateable" woman who finds she's lost her most reliable constant.

Ok I haven't seen any of her mumblecore movies but I'm definitely developing a crush on Greta Gerwig, who is incapable of being unlikable I think. This works greatly in her favor for a Baumbach movie, since she manages to avoid most of the despicable, uncomfortable character tropes of his films. Frances Ha is funny, tragic, and utterly relatable thanks to its hapless but adorable protagonist and her realistic but slightly kooky struggles. I mean, I'm an over-educated, unemployable young woman myself with nowhere to really go in life, so I was totally feeling everything Frances went through. And though it is following her personal experiences completely, one of the main focal points is her friendship with Sophie, which informs some of her decisions and conversation, and I of course loved that theme. They are super cute together and they have goofy conversations.

There are moments of discomfort and unease, particularly at a fancy dinner party that launches Frances into an ill-conceived trip to Paris, but these moments are integral both to our understanding of the character and her development as a person. The script is a little episodic, scenes in the life of a wandering twentysomething, but the overall story of self-actualization is cohesive. I dug the dialogue, which carried itself with a believable hipstery air but was never so self-satisfied as to annoy me. Self-absorbed voice of a generation? Basically. But never is Frances Ha as self-loathing as Baumbach's other features, and I came out with a grin on my face and a teeny bit of hope for the future. Which is definitely saying something. Plus the black and white was nice- gave it a bit of a more personal feel somehow.

4.5/5

Pair This Movie With: Hmm I'm not too sure, I feel like Kamikaze Girls might be a fun juxtaposition with its over-saturation of color and weirdness, while keeping with a theme of young ladies figuring out their lives and being best friends.

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