Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Now at Netflix: Frances Ha (2013)

Frances Ha (2013) - Directed by Noah Baumbach; Written by Baumbach and Greta Gerwig; Starring Gerwig, Mickey Summer, Adam Driver

By Kenny Howell

What happens when you are not yet ready to be an adult, but you are starting to pass that time when everything thinks you should be.

That is just part of the new Noah Baumbach movie starring the excellent, and Beboti favorite, Greta Gerwig.

Gerwig plays Frances, a dancer who is an apprentice to a professional company, who is living with her best friend since college, Sophie. They are inseparable, and Frances describes them early on as an old lesbian couple who doesn't have sex anymore. Frances' boyfriend asks her to move in with him, but she hesitates because she doesn't want to leave Sophie. She says yes, but their lease isn't up for a few months, and she said they probably will renew. That doesn't sit well with her boyfriend, a fight starts, and they decide to go their separate ways.

However, when the shoe is on the other foot, Sophie decides to move out to be with her boyfriend. That sends Frances into a tailspin, as she bounces from place to place, and tries to figure out exactly how she will make ends meet and become an adult. When telling a date why she doesn't have a credit card, she says she is not a real person yet. The movie is her journey to get there.

But in addition to that, the movie is about female friendship. Or friendship at that age before you have had a chance to go your separate ways. Those friends will always be there in one way or another, but not in the way you think at that age. Life throws so much at you, those friendships are often casualties of that.

The highlight of the movie, besides a clever, if at times stagey, script, is Gerwig. I have said it multiple times on this site, she is just such a natural. You could say she is playing similar characters, which is fair, but she does so much with her face, sighs, using her hands while she speaks. She is so expressive, you really fall for her characters, even if at times you want to strangle her for making such horrible decisions.

I don't necessarily understand the reasoning for shooting the entire film in black and white, except maybe a love for Woody Allen's Manhattan. New York and Paris, but not so much Sacramento, look great in black and white, but they also look gorgeous in color. But, I guess it does become the movie's identity once you settle into it.

Frances Ha is also available at Redbox, iTunes and Amazon Instant.

Rating: ***

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