on 1 August 2013
The delightfully unaffected Greta Gerwig stole the show in writer-director Noah Baumbach's acerbic Greenberg, and now she co-writes and takes centre stage in its very funny follow-up.
Gerwig plays the title character, a drifting 27-year-old dancing understudy, more goofy than quirky, despairing at the life decisions of her friends, whilst making some shockers of her own. This is really a love story between Frances and her BFF Sophie (Mickey Summer): friendship, fights, fun, and reconciliation, all coasting along sweetly on Baumbach's improvisational yet elegant style, this time in delicious monochrome. New York is a black and white city.
The script is predictably well-observed, as are the naturalistic performances. At times the film feels slight; at other times aggravatingly self-aware. But overall it's so effortlessly amusing and relatable that it's hard not to root for our blundering heroine, however hipster her world appears.
This'll make a fraction of what Grown-Ups 2 rakes in, but this will be the movie to stand the test of time. Is Baumbach the new Woody Allen? No, he's just Baumbach - and that's good enough.
The film won't appeal to everyone, but if you are its target audience (you enjoy quirky, charming, Woody Allen-esque (think "Manhattan") black and white edit of the lovely cinematography) you will thoroughly enjoy this! I certainly did, even though I found Frances Ha often irritating and tiresome, I felt tender towards this "looking older than her 27 years" child who literally dances her way through the streets of New York, and you know she is going to be alright in the end.
Frances Ha - both the film and the heroine - is elegant yet awkward, graceful yet so obviously out of place, bright and funny and kind-hearted.
For a film which does not have Hollywood usual romance in it, it is surprisingly romantic. Recommended for a relaxing night in.
on 7 March 2014
I think I fell in love with Frances. She reminds me very much about you 20's.
Whilst watching the film, I felt I was watching a modern version of 'Three Colours Red'; a beautiful young woman trying to figure out her place and who she really is.
What Frances lacks in self-identity, she gives in her love for her friend. She's a very human subject to watch, because she shows how she's really feeling most of the time, and although she's out of step with her friends who are moving towards adulthood easier than she is, it's still very touching to see how she is still herself.
I really enjoyed this. It reminded me very much of 'Three Colours Red', which is a similar story: the search of meaning and belonging from a 20's something perspective.
on 16 August 2013
There's something special about black and white contemporary films that make them feel somehow more unusual, urgent and focused than their colour counterparts. Would `Manhattan' or `Clerks' be as well remembered in Technicolor? `Frances Ha' makes a wonderful use of the medium, stripping out superfluous detail and concentrating on its loveable central character Frances (Greta Gerwig), a 27-year-old New Yorker who is floundering her way into adulthood, moving from apartment to apartment and struggling to pay the bills with her infrequent work as a dancer. When her long time best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner) moves out to live with her boyfriend, Frances is cast adrift and attempts to find a little direction in her shambolic life.
This is a downright joyous experience, so refreshing and funny it's hard to see where it could be improved. For a start it's uplifting to see a portrayal of genuine female characters that aren't just two-dimensional foils for male leads and who actually look and behave like real people. When Frances and Sophie are slobbing around in the apartment in sweat pants and no make-up, that's what they look like - not a dolled up Hollywood version of it. The most welcome change though is that it isn't about romance or Frances `finding a man' to give her life some meaning: a tired, predictable theme that makes for dull, crowd-pleasing cinema - and bears next to no relation to life. 'Frances Ha' is about Frances, not about her love life or big life-changing moments. Realism is high on the agenda throughout and to its credit it doesn't resort to grit, nudity or sex to convey that - proving that strong characterisation is always what matters most.
Its success predominantly rests on co-writer and star Greta Gerwig who is absolutely fantastic, creating such a naturally enchanting character in Frances that you'd need a cold heart not to come away with a deep affection for her. She's eccentric, awkward and goofy, but in a wholly plausible, endearing way - doing the weird little things we all do when no one's around. Most importantly she's not just a great comedy character, she's a real person; we're laughing both with and at her, but we still intensely care about her.
`Frances Ha' is a small-scale film that may have the aesthetic of a student work, but it's also incredibly technically sound, using structure and pace expertly. A year or so of Frances's life is segmented into the different addresses she has lived at, weaving her ups and downs together with montages and short scenes of all the little incidental things in life. Unconcerned with too much exposition we are dropped into Brooklyn and fly through this confusing transitional year in her life, the film passing by as quickly as the years that are escaping Frances.
Here is a film that deserves to be cherished by everyone - an honest and uplifting journey through friendship and adulthood, as sweetly touching as it is hilarious. Add into that the best use of Bowie's `Modern Love' in cinema and an ambiguous title that reveals itself as another perfect detail and you've got an exceptional film, the memory of which will always put a smile on your face. Ahoy Sexy!
More a character study than plot driven film, it tells of the lost, screwed up 27 year old Francis, played with lost, screwed up loveable-ness by co-writer Greta Gerwig. She has what seems an amazingly close relationship with her roommate and best friend Sophie (a terrific Mickey Summer), but it all comes crashing down when Sophie decides to move out (and maybe grow up) for a better apartment (not as crazy as that sounds in NYC), leaving Frances suddenly uprooted and alone.
We follow Frances as she pin-balls through places to live and people to connect with (or not), seeming too childlike for her own good, and unable to take control of her life. But she never sinks so low that she loses the spark that makes us want good things for her, in spite of her continually getting in her own way.
While the film has some very touching moments, and generally excellent acting and writing, something in it made me feel held a bit atarms length. For all the joy and sorrow in Frances' life, I felt more like a clinical observer and less like a participant than I wanted to. And while some of Baumbach's nods to French new wave film-making work wonderfully (the high-spirited musical romp Frances takes down New York streets is wildly infectious), some of them, like the constant use of music from those seminal 1960s films as score was, for me,
distracting and too self-conscious. Frances is a good enough character, and Baumbach a talented enough story teller that it the film didn't need such heavy handed style laid over it.
Still, a unique, if flawed film about a unique if flawed character. It's good to see Baumbach stretch, even if he - like Francis - hasn't quite figured out where he's going yet.
on 12 July 2014
I wouldn't call this funny and am mystified as to why it is billed as a 'laugh out loud', I found it was pointless and boring and a waste of time, I kept looking at the clock wondering when it would be over.
on 11 April 2014
Greta Garwig is a unique, kooky young actress who oozes so much dedication to her role here, it is more than admirable and there are shades of classic French cinema and the aroma of Woody Allen in the way the film is created. Unfortunately Frances Ha, Noah Baumbach's latest free flowing dramedy is too smart, too quirky and too scatter-shot in it's editing and starts irksome and remains irritating through-out.
It feels like Footloose at times or some kind of 'Miranda' type sketch show at others and although relatable in parts with its flights of fancy conflicting with real world scenarios it feels like a very festival steeped experiment with all the Indie cliches attached.
Sweet and uncynical with a lead performance of some substance and inquisitiveness Frances Ha is an acquired taste which have respect for but ultimately failed to engage with. I can see a niche market for it though and interested to see what Garwig does next.
Perhaps i need to to be more in touch with my feminine side or perhaps I would just recommend something like Garden State or Clerks. Yeah, probably the former.
Just because a film doesn't bow down to genre conventions doesn't mean its infallible. Noah Baumbach take note!
on 12 March 2014
Before I begin, I must say that before I saw film, I was under the impression that this was a French movie, most likely because I thought that it was "France's", rather that "Frances". Even by looking at the pictures from the film, as well as the first few seconds of the film itself, it seemed like a French film. It was only after the characters spoke for the first time that I realised my mistake.
Even with this, the whole film does indeed feel like a French New Wave film, looking like something that Truffaut might have done. Even a few of the male characters look French and at one point in the movie, Frances even rides a bicycle through the street - very French indeed!
OK, enough about that!
I thought that the film was simple and charming; it doesn't take itself too seriously and you get to feel close to many of the characters, especially Frances herself.
The dialogue is also very natural and believable, more so than other, similar films. While listening to the characters talk, I suspected that Greta Gerwig might have had a hand in writing and after the film, I discovered that she had indeed co-written the script with Noah Baumbach. The conversations feel incredibly natural; you believe every word that they say and it also helps that there is genuine chemistry between all of the actors.
It is a very pleasant film to look at, very reminiscent of Woody Allen or Francois Truffaut.
I also love how "quick" the editing is; the film doesn't stay on one scene too long, it makes its point and gets on to the next one.
The music is also great too; I had Hot Chocolate in my head for a few days after watching this film!
In conclusion, this is a simple, charming film full of smart, natural dialogue and it should especially appeal to fans of the French New Wave, since the film oozes "Frenchness" through every cinematic pore.
on 6 April 2014
This movie was just great! I loved Frances - she was a really endearing character, but more often than not, her insensitive friends 'put on' her and this made you want to shake her and make her stand up for herself and stop being a 'door mat'.
The film is 100% character driven and does not fall under any of the conventional genres. It isn't a romantic comedy, it's not a straight up comedy and neither is it a drama - what it is, is a glimpse into the ordinary life of an ordinary girl trying to make her way in a world that so often dismisses us and makes us feel insignificant. It is about someone who has a dream to be one thing but then finds that dream is never likely to be and so, in accepting this fact, she finds a different way to be and finds happiness in this.
I loved the film for its honesty, for its simplicity and for its intelligently written storyline, which was simple, but brilliant and redemptive.
on 28 January 2015
Such a good movie, really feel-good and sweet. Especially good one to watch for all twenty-somethings who don't quite know what they're doing with their lives....! Black and white but you hardly notice.