It's funny that the two of people with the biggest influence on me as a writer have put out possibly their best movies in the same year (Before Midnight being the other).
Frances Ha defines bittersweet (&) poignancy. It blows my mind that in 1994 Noah made the film (Kicking and Screaming) that defined Generation X (and served a the catalyst for the path I have chosen). And now, 20+ years later he's made the film that defines my generation and the post-collegiate experience that most of us that weren't born with rich parents have suffered through.
Frances Farmer: No, you are not talking now! You listen. Now you can send me away and pretend I'm crazy and you can pretend I'm still your little girl who can't take care of herself. But Lillian, there is one thing that you cannot pretend any more and that is that I love you. Because I don't. I can't. Not after what you've done to me. Because I am still me. I've been trying real hard all this time to be me. And you, little sister - you haven't been any help at all.
Una pieza biográfica sobre la actriz Francis Farmer, que empieza desde su adolescencia donde era una joven rebelde con ideas radicales, a su ascenso a la fama que trajo con ello no solo reconocimiento y éxito sino también demonios y un dramático final a lo que pudo ser una carrera longeva en Hollywood. No se que tan fiel es este retrato a lo que tuvo que afrontar Farmer, pero es bastante crudo y dramático, pero llevado de manera magistral por Jessica Lange, ya que lo interpreta de manera sutil al principio y de acuerdo a las circunstancias se adapta pero nunca pasa la linea de lo vulgar. En partes me pareció una novela en vez de una película, y eso le quito puntos.
Frances Farmer is hardly a household name among film boffins, she was a shooting star in the Tinseltown, whose defiant nature is destined for hemming herself as a fair game to the studio persecution, and the inhuman therapeutic treatments she receives in the mental hospitals are fierce indictment of our society's callous depersonalization under the aegis of medical remedy, although whether the lobotomy operation was executed still lacks of conviction.
Farmer exhibits her rebelliousness from the very start with her religion-defying speech "god was gone" when she was simply a high-schooler, a fearless doll under the high-handedness of her control freak mother (Stanley), Lange's rendition is begging description, an almost 30 years age-range and 140-minutes running time thoroughly proffers her an once-in-a-lifetime stretch to embody herself into this anguished persona, she minutely delineates how the life-force has been mercilessly ripped off her inch by inch and a belated and vehement face-off with her mother is the most theatrical moment and is the apotheosis of a heart-wrenching vicariousness, bravo to both Lange and Stanley!
Henry York (Shepard), a fictional character as the only man who truly understands Farmer and loves her unconditionally is the narrator, this concoction is a poetic license to add some solace in Farmer's wretched life and a considerable move for its audiences' sake, but meanwhile it barely serves a slush albeit Shepard and Lange work wonder together, the make-believe default also makes no room to expound why those two lovers could not be together, an over-romanticized tone may counteract the despondency of the film but it is also an untimely reminder of how close itself could be as brave as its leading lady Jessica Lange!
Jessica Lange, who received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for this role, delivers a gut-wrenching performance in the title role. Her free-spirited portrayal of healthy Frances is tempered by the film's plot, which puts her through the barbarity that we once called medicine in mental health. Sam Shepard is also quite strong as one of Frances's few supporting friends.
It may be that the film can't fashion a believable narrative out of the facts, but the idea that Frances would go back to her mother after many of the events the film depicts defies all we know about the character, and her meager excuse that "She's still my mother" in the words of Rocky the Flying Squirrel "Just doesn't wash."
Overall, regardless of its plot-related flaws, you should see this film if only for Lange who plumbs emotional depths to produce a tragically wounded character.