Film Review: Frances Ha

Directed by Noah Baumbach
Written by Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver, Michael Zegen

This film was nearly a sure thing for me going into it. I am a fanmom where Greta Gerwig (DAMSELS IN DISTRESS) is concerned. She is completely unselfconscious in her self-consciousness if that makes sense. Gerwig is able to be clumsy, graceful, fey, charming, and totally natural all at once. This movies plays to all of these strengths perhaps because she and her boyfriend wrote it. There is not one scene in which she is dressed, made-up or hairdressed to good effect and yet she sparkles. Black and white always suits Manhattan and here is no exception. It also suits Frances’ world.

Noah Baumbach (THE SQUID AND THE WHALE) obviously has a beat on his star as well as the nuances of female friendship. For that is its true subject matter. How rare is that?

PLOT: Frances Hardy (Gerwig) a would-be dancer and choreographer relies on her best friend, Sophie (Sumner) for support and sympathy as she flounders in romance, her profession, her ability to support herself in New York. When Sophie suddenly announces she is moving in with another woman in a more desirable neighborhood, Frances is aghast. She has just turned down her boyfriends’ request to share a place. She bounces back by moving in with two other male friends. This begins a downward spiral that is sometimes sad, sometimes funny, and sometimes cringe-worthy. Clearly Frances has no idea of how to save herself and catapults from one outlandish situation to another. Although there is no suggestion of homosexuality, her relationship with Sophie is her primary one and she is unable to make it stick. It is the importance of friendship that drives the plot.

Gerwig is so utterly believable in every fall she takes, in every bad decision she makes, in every kooky thing she says, you can’t help but root for her. And I did. Highly recommended for those that like character- driven films.

Patti Abbott