STARRING: Greta Gerwig, Adam Driver, Mickey Sumner, Michael Esper, Michael Zegen, Grace Gummer.
DIRECTED BY: Noah Baumbach
Frances Ha is the film that your hipster friends will show you, and tell you how great it is, and show you all the reviews, and you just won’t understand. You’ll see that critics adore it, and that Greta Gerwig has picked up some awards, and that Criterion released the DVD. You’ll feel bad for not liking it, and you’ll even lie to your friends and say you really enjoyed how the film seemingly goes nowhere. It’s a slice of life film, so true to its origins that Frances’s parents in the film are actually played by Greta Gerwig’s real life parents.
In the film, Frances is a super complicated New Yorker who works at a dance studio, even though she’s a basic dancer herself, and dreams of being a more professional dancer. She lives with her best friend, but that living arrangement changes, so she couch hops a lot. Most of the film, she just sits around with her friends and talks about life. The idea of the film is for you to feel almost as if Frances is a real person, and you’ve just enjoyed a little non-documentary about her life. You were present.
It’s almost the film that could be non-scripted. I wouldn’t be surprised if the film was entirely improved, because the dialogue is so basic and conversational, that it really doesn’t require scripting. There’s no added snark, or jokes with punchlines. It’s the kind of stuff you’d say to your friends. So, I feel like these actors could have come up with all that dialogue themselves (if needed).
My biggest problem with Frances Ha is that I really didn’t care. Oddly enough, even though I didn’t like Frances as a character, I did end up liking Greta Gerwig more as an actress. Frances as a character is deeply flawed, almost to the point of being annoying. I wouldn’t want to be her friend, as she seems to not really “get it”. The supporting cast is fine, but none of them really impact you. They all just seem to stand around and give Frances something to talk to other than a wall.
Beige. That’s how I’d describe this film (even though it was shot in black and white). It’s the film equivalent of beige. Its just there, it’s neither awful, nor is it good. It makes no real impact, and will leave you wondering why you bothered in the first place. I’m sure people really enjoyed the “truth” and “honesty” behind a film that is trying so very hard to be real, but I found it to be dull and uninteresting. If I wanted to watch a group of people talk for an hour and a half, I’d sit in a Starbucks.
FINAL GRADE: C-