Frances Ha

Frances Ha ★★★★

(Okay so a word of warning. After I saw this there was a surprise Q&A with Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig and as I'm a huge fan of both of them I'm still pretty high from that. I will still try and review the movie honestly though.)

IT WAS SO GOOD! No, but really, I did love it. I was always going to from the moment I saw the first trailer, as it had pretty much everything I love in films. It's low-key, it's sweet, it doesn't overplay it's drama or it's emotions, and it generally feels like a real person's story turned into a film. Naturally that leads to some narrative drift but that's exactly what I want, especially in a story that feels so intentionally unfocused. Frances Ha's cheat card (is that a thing?) is definitely it's intentional lack of direction, as any lapses in narrative tension can be attributed to realism. It's a bit of a cheap trick but it works on me and I loved the film.

The two things that work in tandem to lift this film up are it's acting and it's cinematography. While the screenplay is solid and contains all the stuff I love about Baumbach's best work (Squid And The Whale) it also contains some of the stuff I hate about his worst (Kicking & Screaming). While the dialogue and the situations feel fantastically real, insightful and hilarious, the ending of the film is unfortunately unsatisfying and truncated. It feels as if neither Baumbach or Gerwig could figure out how to make the ending situation funny, so they just skipped through it as quickly as possible. No, what makes Frances Ha work is how all the actors, Gerwig especially, bring the material to life, and how the surprisingly incredible camerawork pulls everything together. Also, I don't want to forget the music which was the real surprise (and I was very happy to hear Modern Love wasn't just in the trailer).

Overall Frances Ha managed to slightly exceed my already high expectations by shining in areas where I hadn't even considered it to be a contender. It contained one of the best soundtracks and some of the best filming and editing I've seen in any film this year, and there was enough of a spark in the script to paper over the occasional flagging scene and the unsatisfying ending. While I still don't think Noah Baumbach has made the movie he's capable of making if he focused on the right things, Frances Ha will definitely suffice for me until then.

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