Frances Ha (2013)


Going through a quarter-life crisis? Just dance!

Meet Frances (Greta Gerwig): she’s young, she’s newly-single, she has no job, she has a best friend (Mickey Sumner), and she’s a dancer. Well, sort of. As soon as Frances feels as if she has her life on-track with the boyf, the job, and the bestie, everything gets swooped-from underneath her feet and she soon realizes that she has no place to crash, no dude to fall back on, no bestie to really care for her when she needs it the most, and no source of income. Basically, Frances is having a hard time adjusting to the curve ball life has thrown her, but that’s life. That’s what all the people say.

It should be no surprise that I’m not the biggest fan of indie-auteur Noah Baumbach. For some reason, the dude has just never connected with me on a deeper-level, except for maybe The Squid and the Whale, which actually followed a plot-line, with real characters, real situations, and real problems that people face in their day-to-day lives. Every other movie of his seems to have barely any of those aspects, and yet: people love the hell out of him. Never quite got, until now. Then again, this is probably his most-cheerful film in the longest time so maybe that’s what’s going along with it as well.

The aspect of this movie that makes it work so well is that it feels relateable to everybody, no matter what walk of life you come from. You can be either young, old, new, or dying and still find something to connect with, whether it be the ideas, themes, or just plain and old Frances herself. I found myself connecting to all of the above, but Frances stayed clear in my mind the most.

Baumbach takes a look at life through the regular, ordinary hipster that lives in New York and is just trying to take in each day as she can, all by herself, and be successful at it, but it’s just not working out for her. Whenever Frances thinks that she has it all figured-out, is ready to move on, and make that big step in the right direction, something problematic pops-up in her way, screws it all up, and then puts her right back at where she started. That’s sort of how life is. Right when you feel like nothing bad could happen and screw-up everything good you have going on in your life, something bad does happen. It’s unexplained, but it always happens. It’s all a matter of whether or not you can pick yourself back up, continue on, and find out what is really out there for you, whether it be in your home state, or somewhere out there in the world, such as a whole other country.

Slap-boxing in the park, how those used to be the days.
Slap-boxing is the perfect bonding for most women, until it becomes serious because the one, fucked the other’s boy and hell just breaks loose,

Being a young, civilized-male who still lives with his parents and attending community college as of right now, I found myself really connecting with this movie as it made me feel as if I wasn’t the only one who still struggles to be independent and not let bad shit get in the way of the simple things in life. For instance, whenever my parents offer me money for anything, whether it be for food, gas, a movie (barely need it anymore), or anything at all, I usually shake the head, put the hand up, and firmly say, “It’s cool. I got it.” It makes me feel cool, makes me feel in control, and makes me feel independent. We all strive to feel like that every once and awhile, but we still need that leverage from a helping-hand. All you can hope is that it isn’t too many times, to where it almost feels like you’re losing all credibility for falling back on others.

Anyway, I feel as if I’ve gotten further and further away from this flick and what it does, and more towards me and my inner-thoughts as a young lad. On with the movie!

If anything, this movie gave me a nice dosage of reality that is sure to hit me any second. Life can be funny, life can be heartwarming, life can be happy, and life can just be random. Things that happen in this movie may take some by surprise, whereas it may just have others scoff at the pure-randomness of it all. However, it does have cohesion to it’s plot because it’s all what life is all about. Life isn’t always going to go according to yours, or anybody else’s plan. It’s just going to happen the way it is, whether you like it or not. Call me cynical, call me what you will, but that’s just how I feel after 19 years of living (old-head over here). Baumbach touches on this reality that the world we live in is always changing, and we might just be changing along with it. We just never take a second to wait and check it out for ourselves. Gotta listen to Ferris in a situation like this!

It was also pretty nice to see Baumbach still display his knack for comedy, drama, and building characters. To be honest, the movie isn’t very funny and even when it tries to be; it’s all about being awkward, weird, or plain and simply hipsterish. That pisses me off, but I guess when you pair Baumbach and Gerwig together for one movie, “hipsterish” is exactly what you’re going to get. Still, it didn’t piss me off as much as it has with his past flicks, because of the sole reason the guy seems to actually give us somebody to care about, somebody that HE actually cares about, and he found that all in Greta Gerwig as Frances.

You can't see, but the training wheels are still on. Yup, such a hipster.
You can’t see, but the training wheels are still on. Yup, such a hipster.

In mainly all of Baumbach’s movies, he always seems to give us characters that you despise, couldn’t give two shits about, and just want to see bad things happen to, in anyway possible. However, Frances is different and you feel for her right from the very-second she shows up on-screen. Gerwig is a very likeable-presence on-screen that isn’t hard getting used to, even when she seems to making too many clueless mistakes that you want to slap her in the face for. But then you get to thinking: we all make mistakes. Frances is just like every other human-being, in a way (minus the irony and ballerina dancing), by how she does what she feels is right for her, even if it doesn’t always have the best impact on the one’s around her.

It would have been really hard to feel for a character like Frances if she continued to make stupid decisions and not realize why and how stupid they actually were, but she does come to that realization many of times. She’s also a nice soul too, that doesn’t seem to have a heavy-set agenda against any person in particular and is rather peaceful, whether she’d be talking to her bestie (played by an amazing Mickey Sumner), hanging-out with random people she just met at a party, or is trying to win over upper-class noobs that she just met through a mutual friend at a very fancy din-din. Frances goes through everything any person has ever gone through in life, but she does it in just about an hour and a half. It always remains interesting, insightful, and enjoyable to watch, all because of Gerwig’s presence. The girl’s got a lot going for her, and it’s only a matter of time until the rest of the world really gets a good look at who she truly is. No, not that look!

Consensus: Considering this is his most pleasant and happy-go-lucky film to date, Noah Baumbach finds reality, along with happiness, pain, sadness, anger, smiles, and hipsters galore with Frances Ha, as he, and supposed real-life gal-pal, Greta Gerwig make you feel like you’re watching a real person, go through real problems, and find a way to get past them in any way she can.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

No need for the tie, but hey, I mean, I guess it's cool and all.
No need for the tie, but hey, I mean, I guess it’s cool and all.
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11 comments

  1. I’ve been wanting to see this since I heard about it at the Toronto Film Festival last year and then came that trailer which made me want to see it even more. I love Noah Baumbach’s work as I’m eager to see this.

  2. I REALLY wanted to see this. I haven’t seen any of Noah Baumbach’s other stuff so I don’t really know what to expect. Nice reivew

  3. Your review made me want to see this, but I dont really want to spend money to watch a movie about a girl dealing with money problems. I got my own, thank you very much

  4. OK…I must know what made Sumner’s performance so amazing. All her lines came across like she was reading the back of a macaroni and cheese box. A dazed and confused performance and one that seriously impacted my overall opinion of the film.

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