By Michael Kalafatis (Stoke on Trent)
Directed by Noah Baumbach, starring Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver, Michael Esper and Charlotte d’Amboise. The film revolves around a 27 year old apprentice dancer and her financial and personal disappointments while living in New York, it explores the way Frances the main character does not want to act her age and the way life is in constant flux and its difficulties.
Frances (Greta Gerwig) the titular character is an apprentice dancer who lives with Sophie, who they went to the same college together. Frances when asked about Sophie she answered that they” Went to college together, and we’re the same person. But we have different hair” which shows just how close their friendship is, afterwards Sophie decides to moves out in Tribeca without Frances because she won’t be able to afford to pay the rent. That is the time when everything goes downhill for Frances, but this film is not a drama so all the personal, financial and professional disappointments are written by Baumbach and Greta Gerwig in a charming and sometime playful way but there is also poignancy especially between the relationships of Frances with Sophie.
Noah Baumbach has purposely filmed Frances Ha in black and white, firstly because he wanted his film to have the look of Woody Allen’s Manhattan and secondly he wanted to pay homage to the French New Wave. While seeing the film at one point I thought that it could easily have been made by the leading director of French New Wave Jean-Luc Godard and his muse Anna Karina could have effortlessly have played Frances. Other traits that resembles a New wave film is that Frances Ha is divided into intertitles of Frances various addresses which resembles chapters in a book, and most New Wave films their scripts where inspired by books that had an impact on their directors.
Greta Gerwig is the perfect actress to portray Frances, she manages to find the right balance between comedy and drama and this way she creates a three dimensional character that when she faces difficulties we sympathise with her plight, Frances as a character is well developed because Greta Gerwig is one of the writer of the film and all the major plot narrative revolve around her. But Sophie has also a major role in the film as the film is mostly about her relationship with Frances, and Mickey Sumner who plays her has the right chemistry with Gerwig to make their friendship believable and more affecting, especially when they separated and start to lead their own lives and lose contact for a while. Also Adam Driver who plays Lev and Michael Esper who plays Dan are very important characters of the film because at some point they share an apartment with Frances. They are artist and when Sophie sees their apartment for the first time she say “The only people who can afford to be artists in New York are rich”, which is the way Baumbach want to show just how dissimilar people in their 20s can be depending on their social status.
Even though Frances Ha has a plethora of characters that come and go from Frances sadly most of them are not really developed they seem just like extras who got a few lines in a film especially because the narrative of the film is shot in sequences a very atypical way to tell a story which sometimes it becomes a bit hard to understand what Baumbauch is trying to convey.
Verdict: Noah Baumbauch has managed to create a hybrid film that is reminiscent of the new wave films made in France in late 1950s and early 1960s but he also used Woody Allen’s fascination of filming New York in black and white. But do be mistaken this film still has Baumbauch and Gerwig humour and sadness that makes Frances Ha a bittersweet poignant film.