Frances Ha

Frances Ha ★★★★


Like Greenberg without Greenberg, which is exactly what I wanted. Frances is undoubtedly Gerwig's creation, and I predict will turn out to be the apotheosis of her nouveau-Annie Hall persona; she's achingly vulnerable here without being a total doormat, nicely epitomized by a recurring emphasis on bare feet (on the dance floor and in bed). But I'm also excited by the way Baumbach has refined the loopy sensibility of his "early, funny" films, relying less on verbose, erudite dialogue (though there's still plenty of it, all killer) and more on quick, impressionistic snapshots of quotidian absurdity—biggest laugh in the movie is Frances' yelp of surprised delight upon opening her tax-rebate check, which is funny primarily because Baumbach instantly cuts away. So many tiny things I love, in part because I never expected somebody else to put them in a movie: Frances pressing her arms in a doorway and then letting them drift upward; offering "well, I guess I should go" with the clear expectation of being contradicted, only to receive detailed directions to the nearest subway station; the repeated use of "Every 1's a Winner," ultimately revealed to be a deliberate attempt by Frances to psych herself up in Paris. (Also, there's a botched date so eerily similar to one I experienced that I seriously wonder if either Baumbach or Gerwig knows the woman in question, who has the exact same job that Sophie does in the film.) Only a rushed and unpersuasive happy ending spoils the film's unique mood of depressed effervescence. Wish it had been shot with a better camera, though.

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