Frances Ha Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 30, 2014
Going into Frances Ha, I must admit I didn't expect anything much out of it. But I came out enjoying quite a bit. The film is quite short, but during its short run time, the film provides a well crafted story and some good performances. The film may not be the excellent picture that everyone says it is, but it's most certainly a film well worth seeing, and one that blends drama and comedy perfectly into one film. The result is an enjoyable picture, and the performances provided by the cast are very good and entertaining as well. If you're looking for a pleasant little film to pass the time, then give Frances Ha a shot. The film is entertaining, but it could have also been better as well. I really wanted to like more than this, and I felt that the film has unrealized potential to be something really memorable. But it does manage to be a worthwhile viewing experience, but at times you do get the sensation that things could have been improved upon. Frances Ha has all the trademarks of Indie productions, and it's a film that does manage to work much better than its contemporaries as it's a simple, yet effective storyline with much better acting than others of the genre. Enjoyable, fun and charming, Frances Ha is a film that is well worth seeing if you enjoy these types of movies. As well as that, I think that aside from Greta Gerwig role in The House of the Devil, which was directed by Ti West, this is her best performance yet.
Super Reviewer
½ January 26, 2014
Life in your late twenties is scary; some of your friends are getting married, having kids, or making crazy money in their jobs while you are broke, single, and still trying to find yourself. Frances Ha understands this anxiety and while the film's pacing could have used a bit more finesse, the insight into its main character is honest and wholly relatable. Greta Gerwig is fantastic.
Super Reviewer
January 10, 2014
With such a simple story to tell, "Frances Ha," having the very symbolic title that it does, is a very fine film, displayed entirely in Black and White, to convey that this girls' life is nothing extraordinary, but what she is keeping on the inside (her dreams) is the colourful portion of the film. Having such a short run time, you almost question how much stuff you get to see before the credits role, and that is the best part about the film, because you don't feel like it is rushing in any way. I must say that Greta Gerwig's performance is unbelievably true to character, and she really makes you feel like you are watching this real person go through life's obstacles. I really enjoyed this picture.
Super Reviewer
December 3, 2013
Quirky, intelligent and importantly, real.
Super Reviewer
½ December 3, 2013

Great Film!!! The story is not about relationships being the necessary ingredient of a woman's self-esteem, but simply one component of an internal growth process. Frances Ha does a lot in eighty-six minutes, like notably humanizing the "hipster" culture of the last few years, detail loneliness and friendships, impending adulthood, and dependence all the more. The humanization of "hipster" culture comes into play because we notice that these characters are not of the "typical" breed, whatever we define as typical. They are about as free and unrestrained as the wind that catches their hair, especially Frances herself, who is arguably one of the most fun characters I've had the pleasure of watching this year. There's something about the way she engages in quick-witted conversation, runs happily through the streets of Chinatown at random, and is constantly proclaiming she is "undateable.' Gerwig magically transforms a character bound for a caricature state of mind into a strong woman that may not be looked at as a role model for girls but certainly a realistic portrayal of many. Frances Ha does not rely on formula or relationship clichés to make its points, but only on the performances to bring the characters to life. Baumbach and Gerwig take us on a wild ride without any clear signposts, yet the trip is poignant and even beautiful and we can joyously sense the light around the next turn. Frances Ha ranks highly in Noah Baumbach's worthwhile filmography because it is probably his most accessible, authentically charming, and least pretentious film all thanks to the screen writing aid and engaging performance from Greta Gerwig.

Frances lives in New York, but she doesn't really have an apartment. Frances is an apprentice for a dance company, but she's not really a dancer. Frances has a best friend named Sophie, but they aren't really speaking anymore. Frances throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possible reality dwindles. Frances wants so much more than she has but lives her life with unaccountable joy and lightness.
Super Reviewer
December 9, 2013
***As I'm sure anyone who reads any of my reviews know, I love to watch movies that get award recognition. It's an OCD type thing for me, and I do it every year. The Independent Spirit Awards came out and I immediately began to search for which movie I could watch immediately. The first was "Frances Ha" which is up for best picture. I knew some of it before I watched, but the thing that stuck out most for me was the director Noah Baumbach. I typically find his movies to be very boring. "Squid and the Whale" and "Greenburg" are two movies that got some recognition and just bored the hell out of me. Had fine performances and premises, but were just too slow. So I figured this would probably continue that trend. It's always good to be wrong, as this is definitely his best movie yet. It's about a dancer named Frances(Greta Gerwig) who is one of those girls who can't get their life together. Her roommate/best friend moves out of their apartment and on with her life. Frances then searches for new friends, while trying to make something of her dream to be a professional dancer. It does a great job of showing a real friendship that goes through the ups and downs of life. Gerwig is fantastic and one of the better female characters I've seen the last few years. The movie is all black and white, which gives it a very unique feel. It does drag in spots, but it's only 90 minutes long and the soundtrack is great(had "Modern Love" by David Bowie stuck in my head since!). Overall, if you're a fan of indy movies, then this is a definite movie to check out(it's available on Netflix streaming!). But if those type of movies aren't your thing, then you should probably steer clear.
Super Reviewer
December 7, 2013
Beautifully paced, intelligently written, and well-acted, Frances Ha is 2013's must-see film, and so-far the year's only flawless effort. It is funny, charming, touching, and most of all honest and real. Kudos to a perfectly timed, well-crafted, relatable film that engages every step of the way with its subtly and softness.
Super Reviewer
½ May 9, 2013
In Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha (his first film since 2010's underrated Greenberg) actress Greta Gerwig out-Dunhams Lena Dunham as both a writer and actress in a story about the life and 'problems' of twenty-something females living in New York City in the modern day. Frances Ha succeeds at conveying the same feelings, emotions, and dynamics in HBO's Girls, on a level Dunham can't possible reach at this point in her young and very oversold career, because Greta has Baumbach on her side, a master storyteller who is able to take all of the authentic quirks of semi-privileged but struggling girls like Frances and actually form something whole and coherent out of them.

The film is flawed (like all of Baumbach's movies), as meandering narrative tangents threaten to topple the plot at any moment. But after seeing Baumbach's film, the difference between Frances Ha and Girls (and why the former is much more successful and satisfying than the latter) is immediately apparent: Frances Ha is a complete story that is broken up and fragmented by those narrative tangents, whereas Girls is nothing more than a string of tangents that fail to build up into something articulate. Frances Ha uses intelligence and clarity to portray a lifestyle that often seems to lack both.
Super Reviewer
½ June 5, 2013
Loved it. Cute, quirky, thoughtful, warm but subtly real.
Super Reviewer
½ December 3, 2013
Recently a trend has been emerging in writing for both television and film that includes storylines revolving around the plight of the Millennial generation and the woes of the twenty something. The start of it can probably be traced to the boom in Lena Dunham's career and her writing for the HBO series "Girls". Her independent film "Tiny Furniture" was a great precursor to her show, and also featured a slightly overweight protagonist (played by Dunham) who has money woes after college and finds herself relying on the help of her parents. "Frances Ha" takes on some of the same ideals that have been popping up lately, but doesn't have the same empathy for those without direction that Dunham affords easily. Instead, collaborative screenwriting team, and real-life couple, director Noah Baumbach and star Greta Gerwig, find a middle ground, content to show the troubles of artists, but also tells them to take stock of what's important and live their lives. Frances is a modern dancer in a company where she isn't excelling as fast as she would like. Her roommate suddenly uproots herself and begins a new kind of life, where she cares less about her career and more about her apartment and boyfriend. Frances finds herself homeless from time to time, jobless once in a while, and consistently scrambling to find herself amongst everyone else. The film continually stays funny, especially because the characters are so vibrant. Baumbach has a way of capturing the hilarity in being uncomfortable, and forces characters onscreen that are interesting but inevitably intense. Gerwig, always lighthearted but methodical to her characters, lightens the tone somewhat. This, their first collaboration, feels so fresh and young, yet features a strange wisdom that shows the writers are really old souls. There's not been a film that perfectly balances the opinions of this generation and the reality of our world while staying so sweetly funny throughout, and I commend these two for pulling it off flawlessly.
Super Reviewer
November 20, 2013
A love letter to us who try to stick to our twentysomethings-wisecracking-self, while dealing with not so cool every day life and responsabilities of adulthood.
Black and white gives N.Y.C a picturesque and charming look, in synch with its witty and carefree central character, played with grace by the loveable Greta Gerwig.
Super Reviewer
August 17, 2013
Great movie. Very relatable about that time in your late 20's where you still haven't grown up (some of us are still like that nearing 40 ð~³). Loved the black and white film too.
Super Reviewer
½ September 13, 2012
Noah Baumbach is on top form here, with a terrific script, excellent performances and a flawed yet endearing lead character.
Super Reviewer
July 4, 2013
An example of promising Woody Allen-esque story that is not really successful for having as its main character a woman so absolutely infantile that it becomes hard not to find her annoying. Besides, it is not half as funny as it believes to be.
½ June 12, 2013
Brilliantly balancing its own quirky self awareness, with a ton of genuine likability, "Frances Ha" is what a smart female comedy looks like. Take that "Bridesmaids"!
Directed and co-written by Noah Baumbach, who is essentially the personification of a New York indie filmmaker (for better or worse) and co-written and starring Greta Gerwig, in her best role to date. "Frances Ha" tells the story of a woman in her late twenties named Frances who lives in New York, but doesn't really have any permanent residency. In fact, she doesn't really have any real direction in life. She is a dancer that doesn't really dance all that well. She continuously wears these hideous floral print dresses with black leggings and a sweater wrapped around her waist. In some circles she is referred to as "Frances undate-able". And to top it all off, her best friend, Sophie (played by Mickey Summer) and she seem to be growing apart, after Sophie decides to move in with her boyfriend. OK, so while this sounds like the makings of a barely watchable coming of age tale concerning a late twenties, annoyingly quirky, white, middle-class hipster, "Frances Ha" ends up being a pleasantly naturalistic and insightfully funny film about a woman just trying to find her place in a world that seems to be passing her by.
Shot in black and white, as if to transport us back to an older (better) style of Indie filmmaking, why this Baumbach endeavor works monumentally better than his last directorial attempt "Greenberg", has nothing to do with his direction. But clearly has almost everything to do with Greta Gerwig playing a middle class woman dealing with first world problems, with such likeability that audiences won't be able to help themselves but root for Frances and her quest to fulfill her idealistic dreams, no matter the odds.
Another Side Note: Much attention is going to be paid to the final scene, which serves to give an off-beat, yet simplistic explanation for the title of this film. And in its simplicity, many pretentious film school dialogues are sure to arise. But for the rest of us, the one great flaw in "Frances Ha" will come forth in a final few minutes which will end up leaving your average movie-goer cold.
Final Thought: This surprising little film almost plays out like an early Woody Allen. And that may be praise enough for many to immediately go out and buy a ticket (or maybe avoid this movie all together). But do realize that throughout the overtly quirky world Baumbach has built, Gerwig's performance (and undoubtedly her conversational dialogue) is the only thing here which allows this film to stay grounded, and more importantly stay relatable. Not to say Baumbach's content isn't entertaining, but "Frances Ha" is definitely Gerwig's time to shine, as she is the inexplicable reason I am giving a film like this a solid recommendation, even though its protagonist is reminiscent of the most annoying actress in the world: Zooey Deschanel.

Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland

Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus
Bathsheba Monk
Super Reviewer
June 11, 2013
Expertly captures what it's like to be a young jerk--maybe a little TOO expertly because I was squirming in my seat remembering ALL TOO WELL. I'm a big fan of Greta Gerwig and her ability to touch on the essence of being human both in her writing and acting.
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
½ June 5, 2013
Noah Baumbach is a filmmaker I generally don't care for. I quite enjoyed his first feature, the college comedy Kicking and Screaming, and his co-authorship of Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox was a worthy venture. But I normally associate such unrepentant misery with this guy's movies, chiefly because they're generally about miserable people being miserable (The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding, Greenberg). I was surprised then when his new movie Frances Ha got ringing endorsements from several of my trusted female friends, the kind who would not cotton to Baumbach's usual pedigree of filmmaking. I took the plunge and was captivated by the shrewd, funny, and surprisingly affectionate portrayal of a twenty-something woman finding herself late (ish) in life.

Frances (Greta Gerwig) is an apprentice for a dance company in New York City waiting her turn at much in life. She's waiting for her post-college life to fall into place; however, her world gets shaken up when her roommate and best friend since college, Sophie (Mickey Sumner), moves out. The distance grows beyond physical proximity and Frances feels like she's drifting away from her closest friend. In the meantime, she sputters trying to become an adult herself, swapping roommates and living conditions, and getting into trouble with guys, money, and Sophie.

While a bit freeform in its plot momentum, Frances Ha is perceptive and ultimately poignant film exploring female friendship dynamics and the perils of growing up. Frances is something of an adorable mess but she's been treading water for some time, bouncing around, but her window for avoiding the adult world is coming to a close and she knows it, which is why she feels the anxiety that she does. There's something completely relatable about the anxiety of entering into the "adult world," and yet it's a transition we must all endure. Frances, now 27, has put it off as long as she could but even her "other half," Sophie, is making the transition, and with it growing apart from her BFF. Frances may be living in New York City but she hasn't had a charmed existence, the kind of hipster nouveau rich experience we see detailed in Lena Dunham's Girls (a show I genuinely enjoy, though the second season was a bit iffy). When Frances is out on a date, an event she engineered because she just got her tax return, she discovers she has to pay in cash. She then runs several blocks looking for an ATM. When she finds one she stands in great deliberation at the screen. She'll incur a $3 fee for withdrawing. When she returns, she apologizes to her date, saying, "I'm sorry. I'm not a real person yet." Despite these economic bearings, she makes impulsive decisions but pays for them. A spontaneous weekend getaway to Paris, which she spends most of it sleeping or moping, results in Frances working back at her alma mater in a menial fashion.

There's also Baumbach's signature dark humor that follows Frances like a dark cloud, her life regularly a series of more downs than ups. However, Baumbach's caustic sensibilities have been sanded down, perhaps thanks to co-writer/girlfriend Gerwig's involvement, and the movie adopts a tone less scabrous and more knowing. It doesn't position us to laugh at Frances as a self-involved moron who makes poor decisions; we're laughing from the standpoint of perspective. I noticed little judgment (when she says "my friends make fun of me because I can't explain where my bruises come from," I thought of a few female friends in my life who could relate). Not much goes right for Frances through the duration of the movie, but by the end she appears to have come out the stronger. She's got the beginnings of her entrance into the adult world and the movie leaves the impression that she's going to be okay. I appreciated that she didn't abandon her passion with dance as if becoming a grown-up meant stepping away from what you care about. That concluding uplift provides a reward for the audience and Frances after so many missteps and struggles. There's a tenderness here that's refreshing for Baumbach.

I also thought Frances Ha was a very insightful and interesting look ay female dynamics, something that rarely gets such a thoughtful and high profile examination. Friendships, especially those between women, can function like romantic relationships when it comes to intimacy, minus the sex. Frances and Sophie comment that their relationship is like an old lesbian couple that has stopped having sex. They are each other's other half, attuned perfectly to one another's peculiar sensibilities. When Frances tries to recreate these sensibilities with another woman, she responds in annoyance. At the very beginning, Frances gets into a fight and breaks up with her boyfriend all because he wanted her to move in with him and thus away from Sophie. We feel her grief then when this important person, this long-standing friend that Frances has defined her own sense of identity with, is moving on and moving out. We've all had those people in our lives whose personal successes force us to reflect upon our own life trajectories, and we may grimace. It's an unavoidable part of growing up but our relationships will alter and the people important in our lives will fluctuate, many times through no fault to either party. Frances and Sophie are at that crossroads as Sophie settles down with a career and an emerging and serious relationship, while Frances is sputtering and trying to hold onto the past. The end even borrows a literal nod from 2011 Bridesmaids, one of my favorite films of that year. Frances yearns for a love that is so powerful so transcendent, that all it needs is a look, a silent nod of communication that both parties share, invisible to all others. It doesn't take a genius to infer that this look will be between Frances and Sophie by film's end.

Gerwig (Arthur, To Rome with Love) has been an up-and-coming It Girl for some time in Hollywood, rising in the ranks of mumblecore cinema and becoming a muse for Baumbach. Frances Ha is tailor-made to her amiable strengths; the woman is easy to fall in love with. Watch her skip and dance through the streets of New York, set to David Bowie's "Modern Love," and try not to smile. Gerwig has a natural, easy-going charisma and a screen presence that grabs you. Her cheerful, unmannered dorkiness grounds Frances' vanity, making her far more relatable and worthy of our rooting. France sis no mere Manic Pixie Dream Girl sketch of a woman; here is a three-dimensional figure for the taking. Gerwig also has fantastic chemistry with Sumner (TV's The Borgias), daughter of Sting. You instantly get a feel for the history these two have shared with their relaxed interactions. And speaking of HBO's Girls, Adam Driver, a.k.a. Adam, has a substantial supporting role and another Frances Ha actor, Michael Zegen (TV's Boardwalk Empire), will appear in season 3. Small world.

Frances Ha owes as much to the French New Wave as it does to the observational mumblecore movies of Gerwig's early roots. Here is a film that's perceptive, dryly funny, poignant, and relatively lovely in its quieter moments of everyday life and relationships, rich with feeling. It's angst and ennui without overpowering self-absorption. Your ultimate judgment is going to rest on your opinion of Gerwig and the Frances character, but I found both to be charming and easy to relate with. We want this woman to land on her feet, find her place in the world so to speak, but the movie refrains from casting condescension. Frances isn't stupid; she's a bit naïve and a bit impulsive and oblivious, but this woman is also hopeful, passionate, persistent, and a good person at heart. Losing her closest female friend is akin to the worst breakup of her life. She's sputtering to redefine herself, to find traction with the adult world she knows she cannot hold off any longer. In that sense, Frances Ha is also a winning look at late-bloomers. It's Baumbach's best film since Kicking and Screaming and one of the best films of 2013 thus far.

Nate's Grade: A-
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
½ May 27, 2013
"Frances Ha," Noah Baumbach's seventh feature film (as director), is an irresistible but shallow comedy starring Indie It Girl Greta Gerwig as a lovable, artistically inclined woman pushing 30 who can't quite figure out how to commit to anything or "grow up."

She roams from experience to experience riding a wave of pure inspiration and authenticity, and she has love coming out of every pore. But she's borderline homeless, crashing at the apartments of various and sundry friends and acquaintances, some of whom have little tolerance for her immaturity.

She also is penniless, with no career prospects. But she's got extraordinary charm, which makes being in her presence for 90 minutes a delight.

Ultimately, I'd say the film is a celebration of bohemian inspiration over bourgeois achievement. Frances may not have any "achievements" in the eyes of bourgeois civilization, but in Baumbach's eyes she has a lot more value than the countless "successful" drones you meet everywhere in Manhattan who are so proud of themselves.

This aspect of the film is charming but predictable. The bohemian vs. bourgeois rivalry dates back at least to the 1810s with the rise of Romanticism. Also charming but predictable is the use of black-and-white cinematography. This was a revelation when Woody Allen used it for "Manhattan" (1979), and it still had power when Martin Scorsese used it for "Raging Bull" (1980). But ever since then its use is more affected than affecting. From arthouse innovation to arthouse pretension in two years.

But the film does contain one aspect that's quite original -- and oddly disconcerting. Frances appears to be something like post-heterosexual.

Her sexual attractions appear to be directed toward males exclusively, so in that sense she's heterosexual. But her primary love is her best friend from college, Sophie (played by Mickey Sumner, who is, incidentally, the daughter of Sting). -- unfinished--
Super Reviewer
May 26, 2013
'Frances Ha'. Otherworldly and totally my kind of humour. We need more mumblecore fairy tales! Gerwig is charming throughout.
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