sat 22/06/2024

Frances Ha | reviews, news & interviews

Frances Ha

Frances Ha

Greta Gerwig shines in Noah Baumbach's sensational seventh film

Sleeper: Greta Gerwig channels Woody Allen in 'Frances Ha'

"I'm so embarrassed, I'm not a real person yet," Frances apologetically tells her date after she's forced to make a calamitous cashpoint dash when they're asked to settle their restaurant bill. This is the seventh film from writer-director - and sometime Wes Anderson collaborator - Noah Baumbach (Greenberg, The Squid and the Whale).

This time he co-writes with luminous star and indie-darling Greta Gerwig and it's a terrifically fruitful collaboration. Frances Ha is a film about female friendship, artistic expression and getting your shit together in your twenties, whose monochrome elegance belies the colourful chaos of its protagonist's life: in essence it's Manhattan meets Girls.

Frances (Gerwig) is a 27-year-old dance company apprentice living in New York. She has a puppy dog's enthusiasm and, though she's pronounced "undateable" by a male friend, it doesn't seem to faze her. The film follows her across the city - with brief sojourns to Paris and (Gerwig's real hometown) Sacramento - as Frances goes from coupled-up to singleton, from shared-bed to couch to dorm. What should have been the one constant in her life - her best-friendship with Sophie (Mickey Sumner) - is in fact the focus of much of the film's turmoil.

We've seen plenty of bromances recently in US film but Frances Ha refreshingly foregrounds female friendship - and what a sticky business it can be: this one is jealous, needy, painful and intense, and it's also rather touching. Another thing Frances Ha conveys so successfully is what a different world it is if you "know people", have family money behind you and are therefore able to indulge yourself artistically. While middle-class Frances' life is a shambles and she can (and does) fall far, she befriends two rich-kids, one of whom Benji (played by Michael Zegen) is guiltlessly unemployed and working on a "sample script" for Gremlins 3.

Gerwig has the kind of beautifully demonstrative face that conveys the anxieties of a generation, and it's no exaggeration to say that she elevates awkwardness into an art-form. In her expressive radiance she reminds me of the great Gena Rowlands, while her clownish gangliness gives her a touch of Olive Oil. And Baumbach's latest may even be his best; it's certainly his most likeable, with a cracking, frequently hilarious script and a truly wonderful closing reveal. If Frances Ha has a weakness it's that Sumner struggles to emerge from Gerwig's shadow, and is perhaps an odd choice considering the film's shots at nepotism (she's the daughter of Sting and Trudie Styler).

That casting slip is a relatively minor quibble, however, and any film that manages to employ David Bowie's cheerfully cynical "Modern Love" twice certainly wins major points with me; it's a perfect fit for the film's (and Gerwig's) hapless charms. Frances Ha is pure joy and should appeal to anyone who's ever been young. Or an idiot.

Watch the trailer for Frances Ha

Follow @EmmaSimmonds on Twitter

Gerwig has the kind of beautifully demonstrative face that conveys the anxieties of a generation


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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