Inspired by Gerwig's spontaneity, and scripted to cultivate it, the movie does turn up some occasional stilted line readings here and there, but periodic awkwardness also is shrewdly elemental to its charm.
I found Frances Ha frequently irritating and even cringe-inducing in the moment, yet feel tenderer towards it in retrospect. It's about a specific time in life, when the sudden stampede to self-definition can make people seem cruel, crazy or resentful.
Baumbach's previous films have been insightful and wry without ever really being all that likeable. Gerwig brings a charm and energy to this shared project that makes it, if perhaps not his deepest film, then easily his most fun.
[Frances Ha] may feel tossed-off, but like the early French New Wave films that inspired it, this affectionate portrait of wayward young folks trying to survive, emotionally and professionally, in the big city is both touching and meaningful.