Frances Ha (2012)

Frances Ha (2012) movie poster

director Noah Baumbach
viewed: 12/01/2013

Greta Gerwig.  I’ve liked her from the moment I first encountered her in Baghead (2008).  I’ve liked her in (everything I’ve seen her in since then.  And I’m hardly alone in that opinion.  In fact, it’s her now boyfriend director co-writer Noah Baumbach who last worked with her in the less than great Greenberg (2010) who collaborated with her on this, her screenwriting debut, Frances Ha.

I still think that Baumbach’s best film is The Squid and the Whale (2005) though his collaborations on screenplays with Wes Anderson have also been some of Anderson’s best works.

Frances Ha is about a gal in her late 20’s in Manhattan, going through the ups and downs of life, career, relationships and self.  Shot in black-and-white, the film echoes other movies set in the Big Apple, paeans and odes to the city and its life.  But also a paean to a lovely young thing who has genuine charm and character, the character/actress as character.

Baumbach is my age exactly.  So, his relationship with a girl 14 years his younger, and thusly with the life of people in their 20’s is separated in time and life in a significant though not insurmountable way.   Gerwig is the real thing, someone with real elan and heart, so you can forgive anyone for sort of falling for her.  But there is this semi-vicarious, creepyish voyeurism into a period of life now departed from those of us in our 40’s.  I don’t know, but I’m sure this take is unique to me to an extent, but it’s really how I felt through the film.

It’s a likable film, with charms and moments.  The two things it reminded me of, Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture (2010) and probably her whole tv show Girls which I’ve never seen only read about and perhaps also Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979).  It’s a good effort, not perhaps all too memorable, but good in its low-key, personal nature.

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