My first foray into the work of Greta Gerwig was 2017's Lady Bird, a film I did not particularly enjoy. Mostly, I felt it was disingenuous and featured a protagonist who was difficult to root for. Now, having watched Frances Ha, I'm pleased to discover a film that is essentially everything I'd hoped Lady Bird was. Frances Ha is a film about nothing, but it keeps your interest throughout by taking you on an adventure with Frances, a young woman in her 20's who is trying to make the most of what she's got in New York City.
Greta Gerwig plays Frances with such audacity and lack of care for how the world tells her she should act. For God's sake, she goes to Paris for two days just so she can crash in a free apartment and get some sleep. She's the carefree spirit in all of us desperately trying to break free and roam the Big Apple with someone just like us. With barely any story and a host of supporting characters who are either toxic or cliched, it's definitely Frances who holds the movie together. And for some reason, you enjoy watching her meander from one possible disaster to the next. It's the Seinfeld of coming-of-age movies.
I didn't think I'd like Frances Ha because films like this never really do anything for me. Instead of relating, I just get irritated by the often irrational behavior of our hero or heroine. But this one was different. It was clever, it was sweet, it was charming. Frances wasn't a young woman who hated the world and wanted to stick it to her parents or society or whatever. She enjoyed life for absolutely no reason and she wanted to enjoy it with the people she loved. That's why I liked this movie.
If there was a museum for 20-something-year-olds, Frances Ha would have a place of prominence in it. Greta Gerwig too. There have been countless pieces of art created in New York City, relating to all kinds of people, shedding light on all the culture that has been created in one of the most dynamic cities in human existence.
Noah Baumbach serves as writer and director, with Gerwig taking on some of the writing herself. This black and white film features Gerwig as the title character and a solid supporting cast that includes Adam Driver, Mickey Sumner, Michael Zegen, and Grace Gummer. As the audience, we are quickly taught that Frances is an aspiring dancer, but this fact never makes it feel like we are watching a film about a dancer. Rather, a 27-year-old woman who is as authentic as they come. Frances represents a character that we can all relate to, someone who feels and embraces moments of not knowing what the hell is happening in the universe.
The meat of this film is so much fun to cut into, containing hilarious dialogue between the young cast and terrific shots of normal day New York. Frances lives with various people in the film, each apartment really shaping who she is at the time. We see Frances go back home to Sacramento, which is just great, knowing that five years later, Gerwig would create a masterpiece called Lady Bird.
This is a must-see in my opinion because of the relativity that it shoves at us for an hour and a half. Gerwig and Baumbach are vital to the film industry, making this film a real diamond in the rough. Plus, you have the privilege to see Adam Driver’s ridiculously mischievous character and who doesn’t want that?