Written by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach
Directed by Noah Baumbach
Starring Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner and Michael Zegen
Frances: It’s sorta like they say there are all these other realities happening all around us but we can’t perceive them. That’s what I want in a relationship, in life ...
Noah Baumbach has a distinct voice as a director but that voice has been rather heavy handed as of late. This is one of the many reasons why his latest film, FRANCES HA, is such an incredible delight. It is whimsical and insightful and entirely adorable. It is perhaps his best work, as a director anyway, as the man can write a mean screenplay, since his Oscar-nominated THE SQUID AND THE WHALE. And I believe, this is in no small part due to the influence of his latest muse, Greta Gerwig.
Gerwig, who co-wrote the screenplay with Baumbach, and is also dating the director, plays Frances, a 27-year old amateur dancer, living in New York City and struggling to make it. She is, in theory, a total cliche. In reality though, Frances is a fascinating character that is brought to vivid life by Gerwig, in her most illustrious performance to date. When her best friend, Sophie (Mickey Sumner) gets the job, the man and the new apartment necessary to grow up already, Frances embarks on a meltdown that she is completely unaware of. Her struggle is told with so much subtlety and respect, making it very easy to love Frances, despite all of her obliviousness to her very real woes.
Baumbach shot FRANCES HA in stunning black and white, which grounds this otherwise light and airy experience, reminding us the whole time that Frances does have some serious decisions to make in her life. Before she gets there though, and the film is savvy enough not to be too specific about what she really figures out, if anything, we are treated to a charming, witty contemporary tale that dances as freely on screen as Frances does down the streets of Brooklyn. FRANCES HA is purely and simply a vibrant return to glory for Baumbach that will enchant all who are fortunate enough to see it.