Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Fantastic Mr. Fox) co-wrote with star Greta Gerwig and directs Frances Ha in black and white and it’s a fascinating choice. Given the themes of the movie, our Frances Ha review can state that sometimes finding one's chosen path is as clear as well… black and white.
Gerwig is Frances, a woman who is having the time of her life as a modern dancer striving to become part of a prestigious company, while cherishing every moment with her BFF roommate Sophie (Mickey Sumner -- Sting’s daughter!). When Sophie’s boyfriend asks her to move in, she replies with, “I promised Sophie I’d sign a new lease with her.” And thus… her relationship ends.
The only thing is, Sophie is getting serious with her own boyfriend and has committed to moving in with other friends to a nicer apartment. See, Frances’ perception of what her life is at that moment in time is not quite the reality. Her promising dance career is not as solid as she perceives as well. Not sure what to do, she stumbles through the next hour of the film.
As teased in the Frances Ha trailer, Gerwig plays our protagonist pitch perfectly as a mid-twenties woman who is confronted with the painful moment of truth that is deciding what to do next. Fresh out of college, an individual is free to roam our personal universe trying to figure out what we want to do. Yet, by midway through those twenties, a firmer direction should probably be in place. Sophie has it. Her friends have it. Yet, Frances does not.
Over the course of this quirky and fun film, you best believe Frances finds it and the joy is all the audiences’.
Gerwig is a delight and yes, she often plays these types of characters and normally an actress would be worried about typecasting. But she crafts such unique differences between the woman she plays in Frances Ha and the ones she crafted for Lola Versus, Damsels in Distress and even Arthur.
Baumbach and Gerwig are a real life couple. Normally, that has no bearing on whether a film is solid or not. Yet, with Frances Ha, one cannot help but notice that lead actress and director are on the same page… literally. Since they wrote the script together, there could not be a more organic presentation of story promise meeting cinematic presentation. To say these two should work together in this same fashion is a gross understatement.