Frances Ha

Frances Ha ★★★½

In the age of hyper-violence, blockbusters, and poking fun at first world problems, it’s hard to make a good movie about nothing more than day-to-day struggles of realistic people. But done right, modern slice of life movies can be compelling and exciting too. Frances Ha’s plot at a glance is loath-able: 27 year old girl deals with work, relationship, and apartment issues in contemporary New York. Though the film is not for everybody and it surprises me to type this, I thought it was one of the best and most enjoyable movies of the year so far. Populated with great actors playing great characters, introducing them and new settings often, with a short run-time, lots of jokes, and great music--Noah Baumbach knows how to deal with this material.

Frances is a dancer, and her chosen profession proves to be highly competitive and not very lucrative. Relatable to many young people, it’s a movie about choosing between dreams and practicality. It’s about balancing hard work and enjoying life. And it’s also the rare movie about platonic friendship. Frances spends the movie a break-up; not from her boyfriend that occurs early in the movie, but from her best friend that occurs a little later.

All things considered, I thought Frances would be less-likable. But aside from one painful dinner scene, she’s quite empathetic. I confess to seeing myself in her arty goals, lack of ambition, and willingness to hang out and have fun over anything else. Others may see an example of whiny American decadence. Or even an aimless waste of life. But in a summer where even the best comedy is about the apocalypse, Frances Ha is refreshingly light. Yeah, this film is about, and made for, upper-middle class, University educated, liberal hipsters. But it is aware of all of that, and doesn’t care. "Calling you poor is an insult to real poor people," a friend says to Frances. Still, millions of likable people have these problems. It takes a great film like this to make them interesting on screen.

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