If you were looking for a New York bohemian version of a quarter life crisis, presented in crisp black and white, then look no further than Frances Ha. Directed by Noah Baumbach and co-written with lead actress Greta Gerwig, the story of a New York woman with no fixed address, a job that’s slowly disappearing and is pushing for her dreams, while not really knowing what they should be. Also starring: Adam Driver, Mickey Sumner, Michael Esper, Michael Zegen, Charlotte d’Amboise and Grace Gummer.
Greta Gerwig has shown the world her quirky, almost goofy, incredibly talented and intelligent performances with such films as Greenberg, Damsels in Distress, Lola Versus, Mistress America and Maggie’s Plan. Those qualities appear again tenfold in Frances Ha, giving it a charming, infectious energy that is difficult to look away from, whether there is little or a lot happening, Gerwig’s magnetism on screen is consistently undeniably enjoyable to watch.
The film comes across as a classic New York tale from it’s beautifully crisp yet soft black and white, to its intellectual and academic leanings. It encapsulates the aimlessness of finding maturity while stumbling through your 20s, in a way that’s sad yet hopeful. It’s relatable but does veer to the posher and more privileged end of the spectrum which fits the overall tone of playful rather than intense, although perhaps removing the more relatable quality for some.
Sumner, Driver and Zegen are perfect additions; especially the latter two creating a modern, free-living trio of 20-somethings with Gerwig’s Frances. It approaches the very edge of adorable but diverts towards charming, given they’re reaching the age limits of being adorable without it being patronising, gladly the film avoids such traps. The film gives a view of the difficulty of adult friendships and commitments, the all too easy path of neglecting or even almost forgetting a friend despite living in a world where we can get into contact with people around the world within seconds. It’s complicated yet simple and meaningful yet lighthearted.
Despite all that, the films abundant charm and delightful manner, it approaches the last hurdle and stumbles. Its ending has issues, coming across as insincere, as films often do wrapping things up in a neat little bow after spending 80 minutes convincing us that things rarely work out how we want them to. It’s a disappointing note to end on for a very enjoyable feature.
If you’re approaching Frances Ha looking for more of Greta Gerwig‘s enthralling performances, then you’ll get exactly that. The film succeeds visually and it’s utterly charming but let’s itself down in the last act.