Frances Ha

Frances Ha ★★★★

It has been several months since Frances Ha was released however it feels like decades. Within Frances Ha is the sensational quality of feeling like a movie that has always existed. Able to maintain this perception of an old classic due to the grasp it is able to take on reality, which causes the audience to see so much of the struggles and challenges of their own life within the bodacious picture, Frances Ha continues to shine and shall continue to shine as a comedy to define the modern age of youth.

Frances Ha’s perceived greatness is best showcased through all of its nuances and subtleties. The scene of Frances joyfully running through the streets of New York to the tune of Bowie’s Modern Love (which is an homage to Leos Carax’s Mauvais Sang) seems to stand out as the primary example of this, but it is just one in the film which is so full of glee despite wading in a sea of depression and loneliest. Dealing with it the best of her ability, Frances spends the course of the film struggling against herself and everything that follows: the disappointment, the failures, everything that comes as a byproduct of being hesitatingly forced by life into growing up.

That is the basic sense of the entire film which acts a road movie through the roads and apartments of New York. These urban roads and ‘self-aware’ apartments are being traversed by the entitled modern youth who are finally being mandated to meet and come to terms with the realities of life. Some make this transition easy, while some like our protagonist Frances, slowly make the coming of age journey which is marked by confusion and many diverse disappointments; disappointments that are for the most part a consequence of nothing more than Frances’ own actions.

This upbeat adventure stylized by indie director Noah Baumbach into feeling like a classic film of the French New Wave benefits in a large part by Baumbach’s decision to film it in black and white. This decision seems to translate and aid in the simplistic feel of the film. Even more important it helps give the film a general sense of loneliness even when taking place in the buzzing metropolis of New York City. The assorted apartments that Frances finds herself in all seem to have scaled down the world into a stagepiece where nobody exists but the characters. This sense of loneliness that all of this creates is essential in telling the story of Frances and allows the aspects of her life as well as the plot and charm of the film to pop as a result. It is almost like devoiding the film of color gives the audience less to be distracted with, allowing the true focuses of the film to become more realized.

But even more so than any stylistic choices of the film or the story and all of its clever nuances, Frances Ha succeeds on the (rather tall) shoulders of Greta Gerwig. Girlfriend of the director, co-writer of the story, and general indie film queen, Gerwig makes the movie with her performance of the clumsy, fun-loving and non-committal Frances. The performance is a complete creation of the character, built by the sharp delivery of spatially realistic one-liners (which Gerwig likely wrote herself) as well the conveyance of the unlimited internal emotion of the character through facial and bodily expressions. Because of the performance, Frances Ha as a character and as a movie is allowed to become endlessly relatable, and will force you to fall head-over heels in love.

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