IFFBoston: Frances Ha Review

CORRECT SIZE - Frances 1

rating: 4.5

Frances Ha is a film that exists to amuse and delight us. It€™s a summer car ride with the top down and no fixed destination or arrival in mind; never too heavy or too light. Filled with the subtle, conversation based humor that€™s become his calling card, Noah Baumbach€™s film follows twenty-seven year old Frances (Greta Gerwig), a would-be dancer who€™s life is thrown off balance when her roommate and best friend - €œthe same person with different hair,€ Frances says - decides to move out of their apartment. This is a wake up call for Frances, who spends the rest of the film trying to find out what and how to do something with her life. In a lot of ways, this feels like a movie version of HBO€™s Girls. But where that show constantly seems to put sexual insecurities at the center of these quarter life crises, Frances Ha ignores them almost completely. These things are discussed, but Baumbauch and Gerwig (who wrote the film together) know there€™s a lot more to this business than just that one dimension, and their film fleshes out every inch of them. They€™ve made Frances into such a complete character that we feel that if we placed her into any scenario, on or off screen, we know exactly how she€™d react. She is quirky and independent without ever being annoying or overbearing. We like her even as she constructs her own failures. Frances Ha shouldn€™t be a movie that we care about, but through this character we invest our own memories and dreams of youth, and can€™t help but smile as she tries to find her place her way. CORRECT SIZE Frances 2 Baumbach presents the film in gorgeously shot black and white, recalling some of the style and romanticism of the New Wave, yet the tone he gives the film is more Allen than Goddard (thankfully). I haven€™t been as taken with the films Baumbach has directed in the years since his masterful The Squid and the Whale, but here he is spot on in almost every respect. We don€™t laugh out loud through most of the film, but a smile rarely leaves our face. At a little under 90 minutes, Frances Ha isn€™t a full meal. But as a dessert, something sweet and tasty, it works just fine. Certainly Baumbach has made deeper, more meaningful films, and certainly he will again in the future. But for now, we can be content that his talent exists, and that he€™s able to make us fall in love with a movie the way we do with this one.
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David Braga lives in Boston, MA, where he watches movies, football, and enjoys a healthy amount of beer. It's a tough life, but someone has to live it.