adam driver, akira kurosawa, ballet, criterion collection, federico fellini, frances ha, greenberg, greta gerwig, hipster, jean renoir, jean-luc godard, josh hamilton, judd apatow, kicking and screaming, knocked up, margot at the wedding, michael esper, mickey sumner, netflix, new york city, noah baumbach, patrick heusinger, sam levy, squid and the whale, sting, wendy & lucy, youtube
Noah Baumbach burst onto the cinematic scene with the triple-hilarious Kicking and Screaming, anointed by the Criterion Collection as an important contemporary film good enough to be collected alongside master like Akira Kurosawa, Jean Remoir, Jean-Luc Godard and Federico Fellini among others. His work has evolved over time, often abandoning the comedic nature of his first feature for more dramatic fare such as The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding. His return to the more comedic arena happened with 2013’s Frances Ha, featuring almost exclusively Greta Gerwig who appeared in his underwhelming Greenberg. Few actresses have a persona that carries through their roles that is as infectiously fun as Greta Gerwig. And it is on full display here in Frances Ha.
The story of the film is pretty simple. Frances is an apprentice dancer in a company in New York City. She understands that she’s not very good, but sallies forth in this, her chosen “profession” trying to make it work. She teaches kids’ ballet classes on the side to help supplement her income. She has a boyfriend (Michael Esper) who is really doing it for her on really any level. She and her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner, daughter of musician Sting) are like two peas in a pod and it’s with Sophie that she finds her true soul mate. But when Sophie takes things to the next level with her boyfriend/fiancee Patch (Patrick Heusinger), she breaks the team up, moves out and isn’t there for Frances as much. From here, things spiral downward quickly for Frances as she finds herself out of the dance company with no boyfriend and a best friend who is moving along with her life and leaving her behind.
A gender twist on the standard Knocked Up-like man/child storyline except far superior to anything Judd Apatow has ever committed to the big screen, Frances Ha is quirky, funny and pertinent. We can’t help but to wince as Frances makes poor choice after poorer choice time and time again. That said, she does it with humor and a touch of grace throughout. Here is Frances at her finest:
Shot in beautiful black and white by Wendy & Lucy DP Sam Levy, Frances Ha jumps off the screen. With great cameos by Girls‘ Adam Driver and Kicking and Screaming‘s Josh Hamilton, this film is populated with funny and interesting characters that add value to every scene. And to add, another testament to how awesome Greta Gerwig is, she also co-wrote the film with Baumbach. She is a talented lady and I truly believe she deserved an Oscar nomination for her performance. Top-notch in every way.
This film is available for streaming on Netflix and YouTube.
Here’s the trailer: