A witty tale about a quirky wannabe dancer living in New York, shot in black & white… I had to comb the credits to make sure Woody Allen wasn’t there.
That said the similaries are merely superficial, and Baumbach has successfully found new material where you’d think there was none. Frances Ha is a charming film for the most part, yet just about uncomfortable and awkward enough to stop it from becoming sickly.
Gerwig gets the point across as the protagonist Frances, a dancer fast approaching thirty who hasn’t really made it. Struggling with ‘getting her shit together’ and watching her friends grow up around her, she faces up to her existential crisis in her own way. Sometimes ‘her own way’ is a bit annoying, for the most part it’s fun to watch on screen.
Frances struggles to motivate herself, and makes excuses for her own failures, all whilst turning down opportunities that aren’t quite right. That, combined with a smattering of bad luck gives us a story arc to hang on as she tries to find herself. It’s authentic, I’m sure we’ve all been there, but perhaps not the most interesting point to focus on. After all, we’ve all been there.
Ultimately, I’m just not sure this is quite compelling enough to be a resounding success. It’s far from a poor effort, but there’s only so far the ‘woman stuck in her early twenties’ idea can go it seems.