Film: Frances Ha
Director: Noah Baumbach
Running Time: 86 minutes
Year of Release: 2013
Greta Gerwig gives a hilarious and endearing performance as Frances Halladay, a dancer struggling with the familiar question facing arts graduates worldwide: what do I do with my life now university is over? Five years into her ‘career’ in Manhattan, she remains an apprentice for a ballet company, moving from rental to rental and struggling to maintain any long-term relationships. “What do you do Frances?” she is asked at a dinner party. “Its kind of difficult to explain,” she replies. “Because it’s complicated?” the man inquires. “Because I don’t actually do it,” she affirms sheepishly. She even nicknames herself ‘un-dateable’. During a hilariously awkward dinner with a future housemate, her credit card is declined and she stammers, “Sorry, I’m not a real person yet.” This forms the central theme of the film. The question of what constitutes a ‘real’ adult?’ And by what age we should have achieved this status.
Luckily for Frances, her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner) is constantly by her side, busking, partying and flat sharing. Unluckily however, Sophie soon becomes engaged and moves to Tokyo, leaving Frances somewhat directionless, devastated and alone in New York. She is forced to ‘grow up’ or watch Sophie reach such milestones without her.
Frances asserts that what she wants most from life is unconditional love; knowing that she has someone to share her life with. There is the sense that she will continue her dancing for the same reason, even though she is not professionally or financially successful- because she loves it. The film is structured in segments, each beginning with a title of the address where Frances lives, as she tries different jobs and apartments after Sophie’s departure, before finally getting her own place and discovering a talent for choreography. Despite being single, she realises that she has what she always wanted in her friendship with Sophie; a kindred spirit.
Gerwig dominates the film with her incredible performance as the socially awkward but loveable Frances, and Baumbach’s use of black and white cinema in conjunction with vintage music gives it a refreshing and unusual quality, somehow modern and classic at the same time. I highly recommend it for lovers of Woody Allen, general hipsters and those interested in dance films! I came away feeling elated by France’s bubbly personality and determination to be happy in the face of her chaotic life.
Frances Ha opens Thursday 15 August 2013 at Luna Leederville and Luna On SX.