Noah Baumbach’s latest feature, Frances Ha, was a pleasant surprise when the TIFF line-up was first announced. No one had known he was making it, nor that he was re-teaming with Greta Gerwig once more, following Greenberg, with the pair writing the script together. The writer-director’s name is one of the most well-known in the world of American independent film, and deservedly so. With Frances Ha, he brings us yet another brilliant dramatic comedy for us to fall in love with.
Gerwig stars as the eponymous young Frances, living in New York with her best friend, Sophie (Mickey Sumner), who treat the world as their playground, and the duo are, as they say, “like a lesbian couple that doesn’t have sex anymore.”
But when Sophie decides it is time for her to move out and start focusing on her life – i.e. time to grow up – Frances opts instead to stay young, moving in with a pair of young bachelors. As a struggling dancer with hopes of permanently joining a dance company, she teaches dance to a class of young children, just about enough to almost make ends meet in her new place with the boys. Though she and Sophie remain friends in name, they slowly but surely drift apart as time passes, becoming less and less like friends in fact, and Frances finds herself face-to-face with her own life and what might become of it.
Because the genre is so frequently tapped, the dramatic comedy is, in my mind, one of the hardest to pull off successfully – there is much mediocrity that nevertheless seems to succeed, which makes it all the harder for the gems to break through. Frances Ha is such a gem, and I have high hopes for a strong reception upon release.
Shot in beautiful black and white, Baumbach gives us a new and wonderful look at the New York of today and the youth that keeps it alive. If you’ve seen his work before – whether something he’s written and directed, or something he’s co-written – you’ll know how incredibly talented he is from the page through to the screen. And if you’re coming to him for the first time, you’ll instantly recognise what a talented writer-director he is, and why he is held in such high esteem.
One of the sweetest and funniest films of the year. Frances Ha is a wonderful story about growing up, staying young, about love, life, friendship, and what happens to it all over time. Baumbach and Gerwig’s script is utterly flawless, giving us an intricate yet delicate portrait of its eponymous character, and the camera absolutely adores her – and we, in turn, fall in love with Gerwig as the young Frances. She is truly one of the most promising actresses to rise in recent years, and one of the most promising young writers, too.