Rating: This is a movie that every woman should see who remembers the thrill and torment of being 27.
Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha is a feminist version of David Fincher’s Social Network (2010). Instead of being a tale of wealthy college men getting wealthier, it’s a provocative story of female college graduates in New York pursuing careers while trying to avoid starving to death.
This is a picture about young women for young women. It deals with what it means to be in your 20’s, fighting to make something meaningful out of your life. It’s like continually falling off life’s ladder day in and day out, only to awake and try again to find a way to the top without losing your dignity.
Greta Gerwig is fantastic as Frances Hallenden, a 27-year old New York resident trying to pursue a career as a dancer. As confused as she is loveable, she is not helped by the unfortunate fact that her dancing ambition exceeds her talents.
Sharing a small apartment with her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner), they mutually try to balance work and boyfriends. They share secrets and frequently the same bed, and Frances is forced to deal with her boyfriend who has the tragic desire to have sex with her only when she is lying on her stomach with her face buried in a pillow.
When Sophie moves in with her boyfriend, Frances is forced to drift from one available apartment to another, balancing friendship and pain along the way. Forced to confront the end of her dancing career, she faces new acquaintances who continually ask such painful questions as “have you ever been to Paris”, not to mention, “you look older than 27.”;
The strength of the film is found in Frances’ refusal to abandon her determination. She is repeatedly involved in conversations in various social gatherings that are both cute and absurd. She occasionally drinks and smokes to excess, but there is just no quit in this delightfully confused young woman.
I love the poster for Frances Ha which shows her wildly dancing alone in front of a fountain. It is clear that she is full of an energetic spirit that propels her towards some unknown place to land. She finds it by the end of the film, and you’ll find yourself leaving the theater with a curious feeling of warmth and affection for her.
In many ways, Frances Ha reminds me of Director Baumbach’s positively wonderful The Squid & the Whale (2005). It is a moving tale about the childhood experiences of two brothers while their parents, played by Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney, obtain a divorce. Life isn’t easy for anyone, something that should not be forgotten.
Additionally, the music in Frances Ha is at times quite stirring, particularly David Bowie’s “Modern Love”. Bowie’s lyrics perfectly describe Gerwig’s uncompromising attempt to overcome life’s obstacles.
The meaning of the title of the film is made clear in the very last series of scenes, and it is an appropriate description of Frances’ joyful persistence. Ms. Gerwig co-wrote the script, and she clearly knows what a young woman needs to overcome to find joy in life.
If you want to simply marry a wealthy man, then go see what happens to Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. On the other hand, if you are determined to find your own way through life’s mysterious forest, then go see Frances Ha.