Do you ever get the feeling when you watch a film and throughout go ‘oh wow! This is so relatable’ or feel that it has come out at the perfect time for you and your life. I found this with Frances Ha. No I am not 27 (28), I'm not a dancer (media/film) and I don't live in New York (I wish, but currently London). I am however at the point in my life where things are not going quite right and I need to sort that out and this film filled me with inspiration. Anyway, I digress...
Frances (Greta Gerwig) is a 27 year old dancer living in New York with best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner) where they run down the street hand in hand enjoying life. Frances also has a seemingly normal if not slightly irritating boyfriend, don't worry you won't get too attached to him. Things however do not run smoothly for Frances as she is dumped by her boyfriend (don't worry, it is not one of those films) her relationship with Sophie starts to deteriorate, work is not going in the desired direction and money ends up as issue (ain't that always the case). Even with all of the minor tragedies Frances is by and large an optimistic character and does not sit and wallow but picks herself up and keeps going, even with an all too brief jaunt to Paris.
The word charming is thrown about all too often for films like this but it really does seem to fit in the case of Frances. The choice to shoot the film in black and white, apart from adding to the already incredible indie charm, also has a more reflective and dream like feel and may also be a nod to the French New Wave.
The film is directed by Noah Baumbach best know for his critically acclaimed The Squid and the Whale and written between him and Gerwig. As well as a reported romantic relationship between the pair in real life their working relationship is clearly wonderful as this film is a triumph and I can't wait to see what they do next.
Gerwig is quickly becoming queen of the indie screen with parts in Damsels in Distress, Greenberg (also directed by Baumbach) and taking the lead in equally quirky Lola Versus. It is no surprise then that Frances is an incredibly likeable character and to be honest by far one of the most realist characters I have seen on screen in quite a while. She has wonderful lines including on the subject of not owning a credit card ‘not a real person yet’. When asked what she does as a career she emphasises that it is hard to explain ‘when you don't really do it’. I think anyone working in the arts has had a conversation like that before and hated it.
In a film like this (a low budget quirky indie comedy) you would expect the story to be predominately about romantic relationships but this is an exception, which is a relief. Not to say that I don't like those kinds of films but this is so refreshing as friendship and work are the important factors here. The end goal here is not to have a boyfriend or get married and have kids but to really nurture your friendships and let them nurture you.
There has been comparisons made between this film and Gerwig's character and Girls creator/star Lena Dunham's character Hannah but what seems to be the biggest key difference here is that; Frances is broke but she doesn't complain, she doesn't beg her parents for handouts, she doesn't have strops and men are not the centre of the universe. Again, don't get me wrong, I enjoy Girls (I've only finished season 1, so no spoilers) but it is refreshing to see a modern day New York comedy where ‘finding the one’ is not the be all and end all.
Frances Ha with make you come out the cinema, put David Bowie's Modern Love on repeat, call your best friend and decide to sort out whatever that big issue you have is (I bet something just sprung to mind). The film teaches you that your life may not be sorted but that is ok as long as you keep going!
Frances Ha is rated 15 and in cinemas nationwide now courtesy of Metrodome Distribution
View the trailer here: