I really like Noah Baumbach as a film maker. Since his comeback with The Squid and the Whale, he’s had a really good run and I’ve really dug everything. And his work with Greta Gerwig in Greenberg made me like her too. But I just couldn’t get onboard with Frances Ha.
Gerwig plays the title role, a 27 year old aspiring dancer living in New York. Frances Ha follows her as she drifts from one living situation to the next. She starts with her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner) but has to movie when she discovers what she thought was co-dependent relationship may have been a little more one sided than she expected. She then lives with Lev (Adam Driver) and Benji (Michael Zegen) a couple of trust fund hipsters, before spending some time with insufferable bitch Rachel (Grace Grummer).
There’s a trip to Sacramento, a trip to Paris, a trip to upstate New York. No matter where her story takes her, it seems like nothing interesting ever happens. What I’m getting at is, I really did not like Frances Ha. The story bored me, I just didn’t give a crap about any of the characters and Gerwig’s performance is just OK.
Like I said, I really like Noah Baumbach as a writer and director, but here, he seems more like a second rate Richard Linklater. Or worse, a 20 year old film student who just discovered Linklater movies and thinks all he needs to make one himself is some long, rambling conversations within a story that goes seemingly nowhere. But he forgot the relatable characters that make Linklater’s long rambling conversations so interesting. And the fact that Linklater’s stories actually do go somewhere.
In a lot of ways, Frances Ha is almost like Girls, the movie. And while I hated all the characters in that TV show initially for very similar reasons to hating Frances, Girls has had the luxury of 20 odd hours of story so far, with more to come, to give me reasons to kind of symapthise with them every now and again. At under 90 minutes, Frances Ha never reached that same point.
Baumbach’s involvement makes me totally open to the very real possibility that I’m wrong, it just went over my head and that I missed something and simply don’t get it. His involvement and romantic relationship with Gerwig makes me wonder if he’s just a little too infatuated with her and assumed his audience would be too. Whatever it is, Frances Ha, the movie and the character, just aggravated the shit out of me. I imagine anyone who meets the character is fighting an urge to slap her every second they’re in Frances’ company.
And the dance sequence at the end… Massive piss take, right?