Who or what is Frances Ha?
Frances Ha is a lively film about a modern dancer living out her 20s in New York. Made by Noah Baumbach (Director & Writer) and Greta Gerwig (Writer) who stars as the protagonist, it is an oddly relatable film. It is Fresh and colourful despite (ironically) being shot in black and white.
This is ‘food for the soul cinema’ – offering a singular experience that is far removed from traditional cinema.
A Brief Synopsis
Frances is almost 30 and an apprenticed dancer living with her best-friend Sophie in New York. Life seems great. These best friends are unbreakable – or so it seems – Frances even leaves her boyfriend rather than move out of their apartment. They have a reality-escaping and youthful friendship but like all great relationships is it destined to last? When Sophie ups-and-leaves for Tribeca Frances is left in the lurch. This new predicament throws her in at the deep end of life and it is hard. Amidst her fracturing friendship Frances realises that she might not quite have lived and experienced all that she should – now she has a lot of learning to do and fast.
This shambling story is rooted in a passage of Frances Halliday’s life. She finds herself stuck between her desire for complacency with her friends and family and the exciting new world she could find in New York.
Frances is a colourful character – there are various shades and hues to her personality that animate her life. She is not quite a tomboy but not feminine either. There is an almost-childlike innocence that bursts from her which contrasts with her composed and classy best friend. Frances fails to understand her own wishy-washiness describing herself and Sophie as the same person but with different hair. Her character fluctuates one moment she is hard-up and the next bouncing off the walls and treating her friend to a lavish meal out. She inaugurates a new credit card with a 2-day trip to Paris and is described as “Undatable.” Her character is unusual and colourful – hard to wrap your head around or even describe.
This film is so pleasing to watch because of the understated precision of the writing and direction. The black and white cinematography is exemplary, but it is the work of the exceptional supporting actors which holds this film together. They are the glue which binds this messy-by-nature movie. It is partly due to these assets that the film’s first half proves a notch stronger than the second. At the point Frances starts drifting aimlessly and it is hard to escape the feeling that the film is doing the same – although because of precise direction it does not get out of hand.
The Themes of the Film
The film explores the idea of having a “quarter-life crisis”. Frances has a quirky outlook towards life. She hogs conversations and misses obvious social cues. Her character is frequently inconsiderate like a petulant toddler – not mean just careless. Frances has a head full of blonde hair (and is a blonde at heart) with bright velvet-like streaks too. The black and white cinematography works charmingly but I cannot help but feel like a part-colour-part-black and white infusion would have elevated this film to the next level. The soundtrack is fantastic and complements the nomadic feel off the film perfectly.
Frances Ha is a refreshing movie. It has a jaunty rhythm combined with a sharp humour that is frequently delightful. It is obviously reminiscent of the French New Wave whilst still managing to adapt to a style that is unique and original. A charming yet brutally honest look into the modern persons young-adult life – the life of the bohemians and the dreamers