Saturday, November 16, 2013

Frances Ha Review

Frances Ha Review
"What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me? Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song, and I'll try not to sing out of key. Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends."

 That lyric from a particular Beatles song describes this film perfectly. Imagine, if you will, a quasi-hipster Woody Allen comedy with lots and lots of dancing. That is the best possible way to describe "Frances Ha," the sweet, sincere little film from Noah Baumbach. Baumbach is a director I've never even heard of, but who is instantly relevant to me after this movie.

I call "Frances Ha," a quasi-hipster film because most of the characters that populate this black-and-white New York City come off quite hipster-ish. Not to say that is a bad thing, because it works very well in the context of the film. The comedic timing for all these characters couldn't be more spot-on. The laughs work on a dry, cynical level, which is why I believe Baumbach is definitely channeling Woody Allen. I'd also say Baumbach is channeling some Wes Anderson as well (maybe just a splash of Anderson.) With all of these ticks, and homages, Baumbach and co-writer/star Greta Gerwig have created something vastly original.

I love ordinary "slice-of-life" movies with something intelligent to say about life in general. I think "Frances Ha," does that very well. On a surface level, one could argue that "Frances Ha" is a random chain of events involving the friendship between two best friends Frances (Gerwig) and Sophie (Mickey Sumner). That argument isn't wrong per se, but I think there is a lot more on this film's mind. I think the friendship is so believable, so correlating, and so real that I think that any person, of any gender and any age can take something away from this film. The film makes accurate and humorous comments on friendship, life and how we go about achieving our goals. In the film, Frances is aspiring to be a modern dancer in New York City, and she doesn't realize how difficult a goal that really is. Throw in the anxiety of possibly loosing your best friend and you've got a film full of possibilities. I think Baumbach takes great advantage of those possibilities and made a deeply moving and funny film.

Have I ever mentioned on this blog how wonderful Greta Gerwig is? If not, allow me to start. I love Greta Gerwig, she's as talented as she is adorable. I love her perfect comedic timing, I love that she allows herself to come off de-glamorized to play a real person and I love how her face can say about a thousand different things at once. She makes Frances come off as a person and not a character, which is why I bought into her undying friendship with Sophie. I felt Mickey Sumner also did an excellent job as Sophie, and Sumner also did a very good job creating a real person out of her character. There is a terrific ensemble of actors who come in and out of this story that works well. Just like random people come into our lives and make some sort of impact. All of this, using all the corners of New York, shot through luminous black-and-white all made for an unforgettable experience.

I love it when films make an honest, but happy portrait of life. I love that this film had so much good to say about striving to fulfill your goals, overcome challenges and getting by with a little help from your friends. I also love how funny it all was too. "Frances Ha," is a gem.

FINAL GRADE: A

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