Tuesday 2 July 2013

Movie Review: Frances Ha

You're 27. You're out of school. You have a job; you don't have a job. You share an apartment; you move in with other people. Life is transitory. Do you have a plan or is life just happening?

Shot in black and white, this slice of life is curious look at what is, maybe what could be, and probably what will be. As somebody who is older, much older than 27, I couldn't help thinking of when I was 27 and what happened to my group of acquaintances. Did we have a plan? Or did things just end up the way they ended up?

Frances shares an apartment in New York with her best friend from college, Sophie. It seems like a good fun moment in one's life that most assuredly can't last forever because it is merely a stop on the longer journey to where you should be. Sophie gets an opportunity and moves out. Frances must move on.

Frances is on the cusp of something in her life but what exactly? Is she going on to something great or is she going to slide into one of another myriad of mundane lives, a life of quiet desperation? She is out of school and is sort of a dancer, an apprentice. But then the dance company lets her go and she wanders around somewhat lost in a series of low-paying jobs. Where is any of this leading?

Frances and Sophie remain in contact. Has Sophie's opportunity turned out to be all that great? No matter what door we choose, there are going to be pros and cons. Sophie is involved with a man and this relationship is providing her with chances she may or may not have on her own. You have to accept the bad with the good. We only hope the good outweighs the bad.

I tried to find out the budget of this production but couldn't find any mention of it on the Net. I am guessing shoestring would be an accurate estimation. But once again, the size of the budget is in no way indicative of the quality of the film as the key part of any good film is the story. It is interesting to see this in black and white as the very fact it was shot in black and white gives it a certain arty feel. Is this homage to Woody Allen's Manhattan? Or do we go back farther in time than that, back to the black and white era?

Not one person connected to this production was known to me, not the director, the actors, or the writers. I would add here that the writers are the team of director Noah Baumbach and the principal actress Greta Gerwig. I am always delighted when I run into unknowns who unexpectedly deliver something of unusual quality. (91% on Rotten Tomatoes!) It is a reminder that the world is a big place with many talented individuals who are waiting to be discovered, whether by the world or by yours truly.

Final Word
In the final sixty seconds of the film, we find out where the title of the film comes from. I ain't gunna spoil it; you're going to have to see the film. Ha, ha.

This is a quirky, artsy slice of life. This is small: no special effects, no big budget. I recommend it but admittedly, you're going to have to be in a certain mood. If you like Woody Allen, I can see you liking this. If you want something intimate which makes you think, which makes you wonder, as opposed to having your senses pummelled into next week with IMAX 3D and 10,000 watts of surround sound, this is a film for you. Ah, to be 27 and figuring out. To be 27 and have your whole life ahead of you with all of its mistakes and all of its good moments. Ha. Yes indeed, ha.


Rotten Tomatoes: Frances Ha: 91%
Audiences will need to tolerate a certain amount of narrative drift, but thanks to sensitive direction from Noah Baumbach and an endearing performance from Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha makes it easy to forgive.

Wikipedia: Frances Ha
Frances Ha is a 2012 American comedy-drama film directed by Noah Baumbach and written by Baumbach and Greta Gerwig. Gerwig also plays the title role. The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on September 1, 2012. Frances Ha was given a theatrical wide release on May 17, 2013.


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