Frances Ha

Directed By: Noah Baumbach

Starring: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver, and Grace Gummer

Greta Gerwig has had a long, hard road to success on the big screen.  Frances Ha doesn't mark her first leading role.  We've seen her lead the pack for somewhat underwhelming films like Damsels in Distress and Lola Versus.  She hasn't had that breakout role yet, that performance that leaves an indelible mark on movie-goers.  Frances Ha might just be that role.  We'll just have to wait and see.

Best friends from college, Frances (Gerwig) and Sophie (Mickey Sumner) are inseparable.  Currently, they live together in an apartment in New York City.  Frances is a little more vested in their friendship and their living arrangements than Sophie.  In fact, she turns down an offer to move in with her boyfriend Dan (Michael Esper), which effectively ends her relationship with him.  When her boyfriend Patch (Patrick Heusinger) makes a similar offer, Sophie opts to move out and leave Frances all by herself.  Broke because she's a dancer but not really a dancer, 27 year-old Frances has to grow up and learn to live in the apartment on her own though she won't really have the apartment for long.

Greta Gerwig finally shines in Frances Ha.  Many of her characters in the last couple of years have been stiff and anything but relatable.  Frances, on the other hand, is a very wacky, down-to-earth character that frequently makes bad life decisions.  Gerwig is hilariously irreverent and uncouth and brings a whole lot of personality to the big screen.  She offers the perfect kind of character for a comedy-drama like this.  All in all, I'm happy to see that Gerwig is finally showing that leading lady charisma necessary to take her career to the next level.

It's hard not to argue that Noah Baumbach has crafted a stylized version of Lola Versus with Frances Ha.  Both feature Greta Gerwig offering immature twenty-something characters who need to learn to stand on their own two feet.  Lola is devastated by her breakup with her boyfriend and the souring of relationship with her best friend.  Frances is screwed up by her souring friendship with her best friend Sophie and to a lesser extent breaking up with her boyfriend Dan, the other crutch in her life.  They sound pretty similar in concept.  It's just that Frances Ha is actually good, and Baumbach's style is apparent everywhere in the film.

Shot in black and white, Frances Ha almost makes me think of another era.  It makes me think of the 80s.  If it weren't for smartphones, Baumbach might have fooled me.  Prominently featuring selections such as David Bowie's 1983 single "Modern Love" and maintaining a carefree, somewhat cheesy tone, Baumbach makes this abundantly clear.  I don't think it necessarily takes away from Frances Ha.  On the whole, the movie is a fun character piece full of big laughs and solid performances.  Frances Ha gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.