Frances Ha (not her real name) lives in a black and white New York City. She’s 27, still finding herself but not even really knowing where to look, as she drifts between college and an attempt at a grown-up career as a dancer. Quirky and undeniably lovely, she nonetheless suffers the slings and arrows of being told she looks older than her age “but less mature”, and that she’s “completely undateable” by her evidently keen flatmate, Benjy. To top things off, her best gal-pal, Sophie, just isn’t around so much anymore. Frances is at a bit of a loss.
Directed by The Squid and the Whale‘s Noah Baumbach, and co-written with the star, Greta Gerwig, this is economical filmmaking at its best (and a mere snip at 82 minutes). We see just enough of Frances’ family Christmas to know she’s parentally-supported and stable, and not to be pitied. Whip-smart dialogue between her arty flatmates (including the droll Adam Driver from TV’s Girls) keeps pace with zippy action as Frances makes an ill-fated trip to Paris, providing a ruefully funny anti-cliché. She’s awkward at dinner parties, but manages to pirouette neatly along the fine line between foolish and funny so that we don’t find her annoying.
Though Frances Ha is inevitably reminiscent of Girls (in tone and subject as much because of Driver’s participation), Frances is less angsty and self-conscious than Hannah. This girl deserves accolades in her own right.