Frances Ha, 2012
dir. Noah Baumbach
There are not enough coming-of-age stories about women in the mid-to-late-twenties these days, I think. This is one of them, though. A damn good one at that.
Written by director Noah Baumbach and star Greta Gerwig, France Ha tells the story of Frances, who is a kooky “undateable” dancer who lives in New York and barely has enough money to pay the rent. Throughout the film, we meet her friends, we hear her conversations – some of them awkward beyond belief because she talks and talks and talks – and we go with her to a day-long trip to Paris which turns out to be only half-day long, since she oversleeps. But Gerwig is so endearing and sweet that we can’t help but fall in love with Frances and hope she finds her way.
What is more attractive about this film, I think, is that it feels real. There are pretentious people, but they are not hated on; there are twenty-year-olds who just live in the moment, but they are not romanticised; there are rich people, people who just manage to scrape enough money to pay rent… And it’s not all about love and sex and how to get love and how to get sex. It feels like watching real life, and it reminds me a lot of the New York-based Woody Allen films. Especially Manhattan, though that is probably more due to the fact that this is also in black-and-white than any sort of thematic similarities.
Anyway! This is a truly fresh film, and I absolutely love it. From the music, which is amazing (seriously, I need to get that soundtrack ASAP), to the cinematography (lot of close-ups, lot of handheld action, not a lot of landscape shots or wide shots, it’s very comforting to look at, it feels intimate), this ismumblecore at its best, just how we love it. It’s pointless conversations about unimportant things, it’s not-really-a-lot-of-plot-but-who-gives-a-shit, it’s sweet and lovely, it’s not striking and mesmerising, but it’s comforting and it makes you feel like it’s okay if it takes a while for you to figure your life out because that’s what everyone else is doing.
review by Mariana Duarte