Frances Ha(2013): A film of Realism and Character

In partnership with Carter Film and Ideas, The JailHouse will be publishing the works of cinephile Ben Carter. You can find the original posts on his blog.

Frances Ha stars Greta Gerwig as Frances, a dancer who isn’t particularly graceful in dancing or in life. Her best friend Sophie is the only person that seems to really understand her. Everyone she meets seem to perceive her as quirky and charming, but they don’t really feel like they know who she is. It’s ironic because Frances also doesn’t know who she is or where she’s headed next. There are countless times when she says she’ll do one thing, but does the exact opposite. It’s entertaining to see Frances talk to different people in the film because the dialogue is so well written and unpredictable:

Benji: Let’s do a movie afternoon.

Frances: I already wasted the whole day, I already feel bad about the day.

Benji: I think it’s a great day. I ate an egg bagel that Lev’s slut made me. I internet-acquired three pairs of very rare Ray Bans. I’m doing awesome.

I would not say this movie has the strongest plot, but it makes up for it with it’s real life situations and witty dialogue. If more young people watched this movie, I think they would be quoting it all day. It captures all the spirit of a young person, but also the confusion and feeling of not knowing what you’ll be in the future. I related with Frances when she felt lost when her friend moved and they grew apart for awhile. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re comfortable in life and things change beyond your control, and that’s why Frances is such an inspiring character. She may feel and look like she’s losing at life, but she keeps on trying.The entire film is in black and white, which I think gives the film character and makes it feel nostalgic combined with the charismatic characters.

Noah Baumbach directed and wrote the script. The Squid and the Whale and While We’re Young are two other movies he made that also capture reality in expressive ways. I admire directors like Baumbach that usually have a three million dollar budget, but are able to cast and give their characters a voice better than most over-paid directors. Also, most of his movies are reflective of life lessons, but he makes his films entertaining and it doesn’t feel like you’re being lectured to. If you’re the type of film viewer that appreciates clever dialogue, movies like Annie Hall, and watching hipster-ish people complain, laugh, and fail at things, then Frances Ha may be a great film for you to watch. I don’t know if you’ll have the same reaction from it that I did, but that’s why you should give it a watch yourself on Netflix. Let me know what you think of it.

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