Frances Ha is a balm for the soul. New York is shot in Manhattan style black and white and inhabited by characters impeded in their aims by emotional whimsies, financial duress and the prurient frustrations of their twenties.
Where it could fall into a cul de sac of stereotyped pseudo-hipsters struggling to become themselves and exist in an unforgiving city, it vaults over the challenge delivering a world that is totally alive and real. This is with no small thanks to Greta Gerwig’s stripped-back performance as Frances, an “undateable” and frazzled dancer trying to make it in New York while she falls in and out of platonic love with her best friend Sophie. Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Greenberg) captures in all its uncomfortable nuance the nature of close female friendships, and the particular pang felt at their demise. Frances’ bemused wanderings and listlessness are captivating in that they teeter so close to the edge of real failure. “I’m not a real person yet,” she says at one point, summing up that not-quite-the-cigar feeling of being in one’s twenties.
What sets Frances Ha apart perhaps from similar movies is the fact that it considers this feeling a subject worthy of a romantic and elevated treatment, like a Truffaut classic, without ironising it and continuing to be funny.
Roisin Agnew @Roxeenna