Movie review: Frances Ha

By on July 16, 2013


By: Elodie Mertz

The new figurehead of the Peter Pan’s movement is Frances Ha:

– What do you do?

– It’s kind of hard to explain.

– Because, what you do is complicated ?

– Because I don’t really do it”.


This short dialogue sums up the protagonist’s philosophy of this new Noah Baumbach’s movie. Frances Ha tells us the story of a young woman kind of living in New-York, who has a ‘sort of’ BFF, who is a mix between a dancer and a life project. Or not really. All of this is in black and white, turning the film into a trendy-lefty story, without it necessarily being a flaw.

A young grown-up, Frances can’t decide between a student-like life and the age of reason onto which everything and everyone seems to push her. Her life alternates between a toxic relationship with her best friend – which is falling apart; between attempts to be hired in the dance company where she’s performing as an apprentice and between an overly expensive shared apartment. All of this with an idiosyncratic attitude, or even just a stubborn one, sometimes Frances becomes totally in over her head and her character wavers between Bridget Jones and a Woody Allen character. You don’t always know if you’re supposed to make fun of her or laugh with her. Nevertheless, despite the neurasthenic potential of the situations Frances has to deal with, she steams ahead, willing to continue day after day, disregarding life’s potholes.

Greta Gerwich – previously noticed, among others, in To Rome with Love as the laid-back ‘Mr. Social Network’s’ girlfriend – has not only co-written the film, but she also offers very good acting. Her casual aura brings the movie some comfort and lightness,whereas her deadpan humour scores a bull’s eye. However American she might be, she sometimes reminds me of French actress July Delpy playing in Before Midnight or Two Days in Paris/New-York. Special mention also for the supporting roles, like the best friend Sophie, portrayed by Mickey Sumner, Sting’s daughter, and even for the smaller parts, like Gerwich’s family appearing very natural in the Christmas sequence.

You’ll like this movie for its wit and its atmosphere, this certain something that makes it pleasant. The scenario is built, but don’t expect anything to tight: the work is one of this picture that ends as it has started, in media res, with Frances, this odd and immature young engaging woman. After watching it, you’ll realise that she might not be datable, but she sure is lovable!

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