Despite some of its well-meaning offbeat charm, the film’s narrative is as plotless and pointless as the titular character’s quest for undeserved artistic relevance. Whatever the point is to Frances Ha, it’s lost on me.
A very talented Greta Gerwig plays the wacky, gawky yet somewhat amiable Frances, a 27-year-old idler who dreams of being a company dancer, yet doesn’t contain the motivation or necessary skills to make this dream a reality. Despite my problems with the film, it does showcase Gerwig’s rising star. Gerwig fills the flighty and vexing role with a child-like energy and enthusiasm that translates quite well on to screen.
Swathed in inky blacks and whites, director Noah Baumback (The Squid and the Whale) attempts to replicate the look and tone of French New Wave with characters and situations that feel more at home in a Woody Allen universe. Unfortunately the entire product felt disconnected and distancing. The writing and delivery felt both improvised and theatrically rehearsed. The forced and artificial nature of the dialogue (and black and white styling) also reminded me, unpleasantly, to my general disliking of Kevin Smith’s Clerks for the same reasons.
Bouncing from one living arrangement to the next, the film does provide for some intriguing and winsome set pieces where Frances finally attempts to join the rest of civilisation. The sequence in Paris is particularly funny and well executed. There is also a sweet tenderness surrounding Frances’ dependent reliance on best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner). But for the most part, director Baumback daringly hopes that Frances’ klutziness will endear its audiences enough to notice that his plot is stranded.
Ultimately the film does capture this current generation’s lack of self-realisation and ownership quite well, but it’s hard to root for someone this clueless and ignorant. Frances fantasises about the good life, but would rather lounge, smoke and drink with friends than actually apply herself out of her rut.
Frances Ha is a film catered for the ‘entitled’ generation. A generation that is in dire need of a ‘wake-up’ slap in the face.