“Frances Ha” Comedy/Drama Stumbles Into Adulthood

The new film Frances Ha was written and directed by Noah Baumbach and co-written by its star Greta Gerwig. The two are a real-life couple.

Frances Ha? What does that even mean? No one, including critic Peter Debruge, Variety, is likely to say: “There’s a perfectly good explanation for the pic’s title, but to give it away would spoil the last in a series of organic surprises that constitute ‘Frances Ha.’”

Here’s what the film website tells us it/she’s about, though:

Frances (Greta Gerwig) lives in New York, but she doesn’t really have an apartment. Frances is an apprentice for a dance company, but she’s not really a dancer. Frances has a best friend named Sophie, but they aren’t really speaking anymore. Frances throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possible reality dwindles. Frances wants so much more than she has but lives her life with unaccountable joy and lightness. FRANCES HA is a modern comic fable that explores New York, friendship, class, ambition, failure, and redemption.

Watch the trailer—in black-and-white because the film is—below:

More About Frances

It seems abundantly clear from the reviews that Frances Ha is character-driven, not a story with a significant plot.

Christy Lemire (The Huffington Post link no longer active):

Frances is goofy and guileless, awkward and affectionate but clearly decent-hearted to the core, which only makes her misadventures more agonizing and makes you root harder for her to find true happiness…

Call it stubbornness or delusion, she is determined to be her flawed self at all times; Gerwig makes us fall in love with this seemingly mundane figure by revealing all her shades, all her humanity.

From Richard Brody, The New Yorker: “With her exquisitely touching spontaneity and the spin of verbal and gestural invention with which she inflects the slightest interaction—and despite her embarrassingly impulsive self-revelations and equally awkward deceptions—Frances is an artist whose medium is life itself, and Baumbach, his camera open with calm adoration, channels her waves of wonder and possibility.”

In summation, Eric Kohn, IndieWire: “At times, ‘Frances Ha’ strains from emphasizing the characters’ snarkiness and disregarding plot. By routinely going nowhere, however, the movie eventually finds a distinctive voice that carries it through. To its credit, ‘Frances Ha’ avoids building to a conclusion that might tidy the shrewd depiction of its protagonist’s directionless trajectory. Instead, it lingers in Frances’ terminal uncertainties.”

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