Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Frances Ha

It’s difficult for me to empathize with the experiences of so-called millennials because I’m so far removed in time and age from them.  Still, Frances Ha (2012; dir. Noah Baumbach) stirred my interest and empathy.  Filmed effectively in black and white, it follows the plight of a 27 year- old woman in New York City.  She’s an intern in a dance company and hopes to join the company as a full member, but it becomes clear that the director of the company doesn’t think she has the talent.  She encourages Frances to try choreography.  Frances has a close relationship with her roommate.  They are almost like married partners, except that they’re not.  When her roommate decides to move in into a better apartment with other friends, their friendship and Frances’ life are thrown into confusion.  They quarrel, and though they later reconcile their relationship is never close again.  The film basically follows Frances as she tries to make sense of her life, to form bonds with the people around her, as she visits her parents in California.  Greta Gerwig makes Frances an awkward, endearing, but sometimes uncomfortable character.  She doesn’t ask for help when she needs it, she seems in more peril that she recognizes, and we can see her gradually sinking—late in the film she is working at a summer camp as a kind of counselor.  Her optimism and relaxed attitude towards life drive her forward.  But gradually she discovers where her talents lie, and her personal prospects improve. The film is a charming character study.   

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