Noah Baumbach (Greenberg (2010)) has built his career on developing complex characters as they try to find their footing in society. In Frances Ha (2012), Frances (Greta Gerwig) is a recent college-graduate with an overabundance of dreams, but little aspirations. She lives her life as an unaccountable but happy soul in Brooklyn. In general, she is barely ever able to pay rent, keep her part time job with a dance company, and instead finds herself dancing through the streets. To state that Frances’ passion is life would be an understatement.
Routinely, I found Frances’ constant immature and thoughtless decisions to be quite aggravating. I suspect that for some, her character is perceived as innocent and unpretentious. Whereas all I see is laziness and selfishness. She allows everyone close to her to use her as an enabler, which not only brings herself, but everyone else around her to the same level of unaccountability. Soon enough her boyfriend breaks up with her, best friends moves away, and Francis has to move back in with her folks. Is she a changed woman? Hardly. Sorry girl, no sympathy from me.
I do have to give credit to Baumbach and Gerwig for creating such an original character. The manic conversations and the endless odd-ball ways of impressing people actually made me quite annoyed with the character. This character proves that the saying “dumb, but happy” doesn’t just pertain to my neighbor’s poodle. It’s alive and well in Frances and that’s where my overall negativity for the film remains. I accepted the fact that Frances was lazy and incredibly stupid, but what really annoyed me was how narcissistic and selfish every character was throughout. Perhaps this is what Baumbach and Gerwig wanted to achieve when they wrote the screenplay, but it left no room for any growth – only changes in scenarios.
By the conclusion of Frances’ exploits, she is determined to turn her life around and through a sensual montage we see her character’s arch. However, in the true sense of Frances’ aimlessness, we see very little changes in her true self. Sure there may be a few less afternoons dancing to David Bowie in the street, but I’m sure wherever Frances is, she is still calling her parents for money, because – you know – that rent isn’t going to pay itself.
In black and white. 86 mins.