FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: On Friday night, I saw “Frances Ha,” which stars Greta Gerwig (Greenberg, Mistress America), Mickey Sumner (The End of the Tour, Snowpiercer [TV series]), Adam Driver (Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, Marriage Story ), Michael Zegen (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel [TV series], Boardwalk Empire [TV series]), Michael Esper (The Outsider [TV series], Ben is Back), Charlotte d’Amboise (The Preacher’s Wife, One Life to Live [TV series]), and Grace Gummer (The Homesman, Larry Crowne). It is directed by Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story , The Squid and the Whale), who co-wrote the screenplay with Greta Gerwig.
A woman in her late 20’s navigates her uncertain life and future in New York City when her best friend moves out of their apartment.
Noah Baumbach. Greta Gerwig. You know, I just need to go through their catalogue. Whether they are working on something together or separate, they seem to always churn out interesting, raw, and witty pieces of cinema. It’s this kind of stuff that I enjoy as a creative; the work that you know is inspired, but comes into its own with such confidence and fun (even when the content is a bit depressing).
“Frances Ha” has been on my radar for a while. The iconic still of Frances (Gerwig) running through a crosswalk with joy radiating from her face has come up in film searches from time to time. It’s inviting, and when I saw it sitting on a shelf at a store, I had to pick it up.
The black-and-white cinematography, New York City backdrop, and natural (almost improv-ish) performance style make this movie what Frances would deem “magic.” Inspired by the French New Wave, Baumbach and Gerwig wanted to craft a story about uncertainty; one where a woman unsure of herself floats listlessly through a rather turbulant time in her late 20’s. She’s got quite a bit riding on her life, many avenues to travel down but trying desperately to hang on to what she has in the “now.” And what’s in the “now” is fading.
When first taking this journey with Frances, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. It’s easy for a movie like this to be about nothing, where the narrative is really a collection of scenes that give us some insight into a character, but not much direction. Thankfully, with “Frances Ha,” even in her directionless season, Frances is getting somewhere. She’s learning, growing, and all the while suffering in such a wild part of her life. The moments that make up this story are funny, interesting, and endearing. Quite a few times I felt connected (hearing that “seeing someone you love in the crowd” speech really hit home).
Baumbach’s direction and Gerwig’s performance are what make this film special. It’s a character we haven’t quite seen before in cinema (or at least I haven’t), and the messy weaving of narrative actually has control to it. Certain elements introduced are harkened back, and by the ending you are given great resolve to Frances’ situation. The little moments sprinkled in between are quite fun as well, with many situation bits that left me laughing.
“Frances Ha” isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I would have to get others’ opinions, but the conflicts presented by the story certainly appeal to that of a younger audience. Not only that, but the hang-out, loose nature of the story could come off as boring to regular popcorn goers. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed it. The wonderful acting, humorous situations, classical/pop music choices, and raw story fit right in my wheelhouse. Also… black-and-white is pretty beautiful. FINAL SCORE: 93%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: