Published on August 8th, 2013 | by Alex Douglas2
Frances Ha Review
Movie Review: Frances Ha (2013)
Guest Reviewer: Lee Hutchison
Director: Noah Baumbach
Writers: Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig
Cast: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver
Plot: When Frances’ best friend and flatmate moves out (an apprentice dancer) she inadvertently finds herself moving from one apartment to the next in New York city. Now Frances must find the right place to stay while trying to chase her dream of being a dancer as everyone else around her moves on with their lives.
The plot of ‘Frances Ha’ is a wonderfully focused tale of Frances Halladay, a struggling dancer pottering through her life in New York after her best friend and flatmate moves out and begins to move on with her life leaving Frances to find her way.
When I went to see ‘Frances Ha’ last week I somehow managed to avoid all trailers but had high hopes based on the word of mouth out of the Edinburgh festival and I have two Noah Baumbach films in my top thirty movies of all time. What I got was a great movie and a mirror reflecting on my life which is very unexpected!
The movie introduced me to the concept of the quarter life crisis, something all of us in our twenties have gone through or are going through. In retrospect, how did I not know this was a real thing! It’s like watching a video of you on a night out making an ass of yourself drunk to know you have a problem.
In the beginning, we are introduced to Frances who is in a relationship with what looks like the perfect man who is ready to take the next step with her and wants her to move in. However, Frances wants to stay in her small flat in a shared bed with her best friend Sophie. Unknown to Frances, Sophie is ready to move out and move in with her partner and this starts Frances journey.
I related a lot to the experience of Frances and she moves from flat to flat, flatmate to flatmate and the troubles she encounters along the way. It reminded me of my student days, ending up living in flats with people for months to a year where the relationships were built on tension and it showed the trials and tribulations of living with people who are essentially strangers.
I thought this aspect of the movie was excellent, and showed what really is a right of passage for those in their twenties. When you look back and when you see how it effects Frances, every different flat help defines you and teaches you new lessons and brings new people into your life and challenges you. If living with Sophie was close to living with a mother and best friend, moving in to all these different apartments showed Frances having to live in the real world of bills and living with people who aren’t as accommodating of her personality!
Frances along the way struggles with romance and seems to put every man who expresses an interest in her into a friends zone. One of her friends, remarks that she is ‘Frances undateable’ whenever they meet. It seems like Frances is unable to commit or process romantic interest and seems to have a very child like approach to love. I wonder if this is down to her love for Sophie and no one can match that and wanting to keep her time free for her friend? I loved the scene with Frances getting a tax rebate and instead of spending it on bills, rent or her life, she takes someone out on a date to a restaurant. Who hasn’t come in to a little bit of money and used it as an excuse to take someone out on a date? Okay, maybe just me!
I feel that ‘Frances Ha’ just nails so wonderfully the difficulty in your twenties of finding your way once you’ve left uni, college and those safety blankets of youth behind. Anyone in their 20s can relate to this movie in one way or more. There were so many little moments in it that I’ve experienced or seen friends go through throughout. Like Frances and her stumbling walking style that is a great analogy for how we get through those difficult years.
The scene at the dinner table where Frances struggles to fit in with those of her same age or slightly older was brilliant and tragic comedy. We’ve all been there where we clearly don’t fit in with the company we are in and those awkward conversations we find ourselves in or trying to act like a grown up. Moments like these are where ‘Frances Ha’ is at it’s best, allowing us to feel for Frances in these common experiences we’ve all had and relate to the character because we are all Frances.
The performance of Greta Gerwig as our anti-hero really is incredible and doesn’t fall into parody or buffoonery that it could in the wrong hands. She is an inspiring character because she falls and falls but keeps picking herself up and pushing on without losing her charm or innocence. When Frances finds her way, the experiences and journey feels natural and believable and made it for me a perfect ending. I cannot praise Gerwig enough and if there is any justice, she will be showered in awards and this will be a watershed moment for a big career ahead.
Summary: I think 'Frances Ha' really is a wonderful movie reflecting the quarter life crisis and moving on from those play flights, letting go of those plans with friends to take over the world like Frances and Sophie. The success of the movie is down to making it relatable and real and that is a great credit to the star and writer, Greta Gerwig and director Baumbach. I enjoyed the movie so much because I could relate to so many of Frances' highs and lows, and the more I can emotionally invest in a movie, the more I love it and I loved this movie!