16 dic. 2014

Frances Ha (8/10): Greta Gerwig charms and dances her way through Frances Ha


“I'm so embarrassed. I'm not a real person yet.”

I found Frances Ha completely irritating and the black and white cinematography pretentious, but that was only for the first five minutes of the film because once I was submerged into the world of this character I was captivated by it. I don’t think I have experienced a change of heart so quick while I was watching a film as I did here because soon I was in love with this character. Greta Gerwig’s performance as Frances Ha went from irritating and phony to charming and sweet in a matter of a few minutes. The black and white cinematography had the feel of a French New Wave arthouse film, but to my surprise it ended up being much more than an imitation or a simple homage. Noah Baumbach is aware with the fact that many people have trouble identifying with these quirky NY East Side characters and he deviates the plot from what we are expecting it to be very quickly. If this year Richard Linklater delivered the ultimate slice of life film on the transition from boyhood to teenager, then Frances Ha could be considered as Baumbach’s slice of life film about adulthood and finding a place in this world. It isn’t a perfect film, but it does explore the issues of self-discovery and learning who we are in life. Frances Ha is a very subjective film considering its enjoyment may be connected with how much you identify with Frances’s situation. All her friends are moving on with their lives and she seems to be stuck in the same place dealing with the uncertainty of her life. Her friends seem to have their lives resolved, but she doesn’t know what direction she is heading. Audiences who have experienced or are experiencing this same uncertainty might find it easier to relate with the film and enjoy it more for capturing the truth of their lives in some way. I connected with the film and wouldn’t mind rewatching it again, but I can see how it isn’t a film everyone will enjoy. 

Greta Gerwig delivers a solid performance and gives this nostalgic film an upbeat feel to it. She drew me in with her uplifting performance and I found it impossible to resist her charm despite her flaws. She balances the charm with the quirkiness of her character. You can hate her for being so possessive, but at the same time you can fall for her optimism and contagious joy. You forgive her for the bad decisions she makes and route for her nonetheless. This is Gerwig’s best performance to date. She had already caught my attention in Baumbach’s earlier film, Greenberg, playing opposite Ben Stiller, but this is a much better film. Despite enjoying The Squid and The Whale and Greenberg quite a bit, this is Baumbach’s best film. It may have to do with the fact that Gerwig herself contributed with the screenplay and that she is in every single scene of this movie. This is absolutely her movie and she delivers. Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver, and Michael Zegen give solid performances as well as they all interact in some way with Frances, but she is the heart and soul of this film. I also enjoyed the soundtrack of this film and there is a scene where Frances is walking through the streets of New York with David Bowie's "Modern Love" playing the background which will leave a smile on the audiences’s faces. 


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