Film Review: Frances Ha

Mickey Sumner and Greta Gerwig in Franes Ha

Frances Ha is an excellent character study. It exhibits director Noah Baumbach and star Greta Gerwig’s talent for writing.

Frances lives in New York and apprentices at a dance company. As her relationship with best friend Sophie changes and work is unsteady, Frances decides to follow her dreams, despite her unnaccountable nature, and uncertain living arrangements…

Baumbach’s Frances Ha is a memorable comedy drama. The humour is slight, but frequent. The more emotional moments are restrained and occasional, but do well to induce sympathy or empathy in viewers.

The title character is brilliantly written. Frances is a protagonist that is endearing as well as frustrating. These different layers make her more human. Nevertheless, not all viewers will buy into the character. For those that do not, Frances Ha will be a bit of a chore.

The film is very much about friendship and maturing. It is likely that Frances Ha will appeal to viewers who have more experience of this. There is a level of freedom that the character has which may put her beyond the point of identification for some. However, the core themes are more universal than this.

Baumbach’s direction offers a genuine sense of intimacy. This is particularly acute in some of the more cringe-inducing moments. Viewers are not given a reprieve from the situation.

Shot in black and white, there are visual references to the Nouvelle Vague films that seem to have inspired Frances Ha. Eagle-eyed viewers may spot the cues. The style and setting also add to the appearance of Baumbach’s film as somewhat of a homage to the French New Wave.

Great Gerwig offers a wonderful performance as Frances. The actress knows when to push with her character’s vexatious habits, and when to hold back. The result is a character that seems wholly authentic.

Frances Ha is likely to divide viewers. For those that get on board, it is an entertaining experience.