Frances Ha

Frances Ha ★★★★

Frances Haliday lives amongst the young and the bold in New York, hanging with the early twenties clique out of university and college still living a student lifestyle. She is a dancer by heart rather than profession edging deeper into her late twenties and the responsibilities that are supposed to come with it. Life hasn't quite panned out as she hoped and it's taking a while to realise another route.

An on-going wo-mance with her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner) pushes out boyfriends and they daydream about their grand plans of a straight, married life together. The two live and practically breathe as a couple until Sophie moves off into a serious relationship. Frances struggles on, living hand-to-mouth to pay the rent in a new place, before, inevitably, things don't quite work out. Frances Ha follows Ms Haliday's self-realisation that life will pass her by if she doesn't wise up soon.

Greta Gerwig is a joy to watch through her trials and tribulations, taking life's setbacks in her gawky stride by doing what it takes to stay afloat. Frances is a character that so easily could have become a twee, annoyingly self aware study on tackling maturity, which Gerwig wisely avoids. Instead she is wonderfully endearing and her tall frame holds a presence that reinforces her fragile position in life.

She gives an honesty to Frances that is hard not to fall for, even just a little. You want to mother her, guide her and help her along the way. She is awkward and geeky without lacking integrity, far cooler than the hip-set try-hards simply by being herself. As co-writer with director Noah Baumbach she embodies Frances completely and little by little she grows on you.

Baumback and Gerwig are also now a real-life couple which changes the film into the form of a love letter from director to actress. From partner to partner. They started writing together back in 2010, shooting the film the following year and it's almost as if Baumback became beguiled with his cohort the longer they crafted the character on and offscreen. The decision to shoot in black and white is perhaps a pastiche of 60's sensibilities yet it works and feels like a natural choice rather than a forced one.

From the outside everything about Frances Ha seems to reek of the worst kind of independent film. The type found at festivals completely engrossed with themselves and their oh-so-cutesy approach. It may still not be to everybody's liking but for Gerwig's performance alone, it is worth rolling the dice for.

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