Directed by Noah Baumbach
Written by Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig (screenplay)
With Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver
USA, 86 min
In noisy and busy New York a lot of young people are struggling for a better life. One of them is Frances. She doesn’t really have an apartment since her temporary job in a dance firm is not really offering her a decent salary and as she declares being a dancer, she is actually a struggling one trying to stand out.
“Frances Ha” is the silent surprise of last year. An independent American production with a pretty black & white photography, young actors and most of all a freshly point of view of how young people are these days. Even if it is based on New York with its neuroticism borrowed by Woody Allen’s remarks and movies, the film speaks for everyone. For all the struggles every person, who experiences the western society’s “diseases”, deals with.
The film of Noah Baumbach is inspired by the French Nouvelle Vague and the characteristic Woody Allen vibe of “Manhattan” and “Annie Hall”. In its content, the awkwardly designed character of Frances always has a talent of bringing unintended questions and blurred (but truthful), life and love, statements.
She lives with her best friend, Sophie, who she considers as her soul mate. They share an apartment together and a wonderful life – almost in a childish way - but when Sophie decides to move elsewhere with someone else, the deep disappointment in Frances’s face is more than evident in herself and her own life. It somehow makes her realize and think over her own life purpose and how she would be able to survive in hectic New York.
The later crisis between them will almost force her to face this big blank wall of self reflection. This eventually will result into reinventing her own goals and plans, to actually confront her own self.
Life for Frances is something she needs to endure, but her own existence and well – being depends mostly on other people. She is social and quite extrovert, but she shares a quite rare intimacy only with the people she chooses, or better to say, with the people who really don’t bother judging her bold and nervy social behavior.
The clean and abrupt – almost tidy – editing of the movie gives away Baumbach’s random direction attitude. It feels like he put together all his frames and shots somehow unintended. This procedure’s honesty is an element missing from other contemporary Americans. It is marvelous and so beautiful to see how his direction’s simplicity, even though is not completely new or innovative, helps him recreate through his own perspective.
Frances drifts around New York, she imposes herself into other people’s lives, she tells exactly what she thinks and is so genuine that you cannot do anything but admire and secretly envy her freedom of character. But she is also sensitive and talented, maybe not made for the big lights and major dance performances, but her style and life values are there permanently to remind her – and us – that we need to keep up and promote our own dreams any way possible.
Nothing that others – or society and the media – enforces us to do should happen. Success is an overestimated situation that can destroy as easy as it can build human lives. The point is to live and experience through feelings. But the other, more valuable hidden point is what you produce in this world to actually have a meaning for some people, even if you can count them in one hand.
This is what “Frances Ha” is about. It is for the small, not of great significance, lives of people who are actually very important, even more important than the already seemingly important ones.
The essence of this film is completed through these lines:
"I want this one moment. It’s what I want in a relationship…It’s that thing when you’re with someone and you love them, and they know it, and they love you and you know it but it’s a party and you’re both talking to other people and you’re laughing and shining and you look across the room and catch each other’s eyes, but not because you’re possessive or it’s precisely sexual, but because that is your person in this life."