Frances Ha (2013)

A film attempting to capture what post-college life is like for those who don’t adjust well, Frances Ha focuses on a single character, Frances (Greta Gerwig) and the situations she is forced to deal with when her life is disrupted after her best friend and roommate, Sophie (Mickey Sumner), decides to move on with her life. It’s all shot in black and white — because it’s an art house film — and it’s less about an overarching plot than specific instances in the life of its lead character which will hopefully have her grow into a real adult instead of the impulsive child she acts like early on.

Essentially, it’s a coming-of-age story for someone who is already 27 years old. Frances goes through many different living situations over the course of the film, and at each one she learns something and grows a little bit. By the end, she almost resembles an adult who can function normally in society. She’ll no longer need the support of her friend, she’ll be able to commit to things that scared her before, and she’ll finally pursue attainable goals.

“Or maybe she won’t,” I say, because you don’t want spoilers in your review. I feel confident revealing this, though, because there’s never any doubt that Frances won’t somehow get through this, and that she won’t learn from her failures during the film. It’s about the journey, not the destination. It’s about watching her struggle and learn from those trials and tribulations. It wouldn’t be a successful film if she didn’t grow from all of this, right?

The film is instantly relatable. We’ve all (I would assume) feel as if we haven’t fit in. we’ve all felt down on our luck, and we’ve all felt like we could stay in bed for weeks at a time. Frances is a character we can use to see similarities in ourselves. As a result, when we see her learn things, the goal is that we, too, will learn the same lessons. It’s often said that “this film won’t change your life,” but a film like Frances Ha just might. It feels so real that you might genuinely feel like making a change to your own life after seeing it.

Its success comes from it not blowing its lead character’s immaturity out of proportion and not giving it significant motivation. That’s one of the problems I have with many of Will Ferrell’s movies; his man-child of a character exists for no reason and is just too silly to exist. Frances is someone you’ve either seen or been. Even without the film prompting you, you’re able to understand why she is the way she is. Frances Ha does provide this motivation, but it doesn’t actually need to.

This is also a warm, comforting film. As I said earlier, there’s never really any doubt that Frances won’t get out of negative situations or find her way in life. Greta Gerwig is electric in the lead role. She’s charming, charismatic, and extremely energetic. She’s a delight in this film, and while she doesn’t need to keep the film alive at any point, she easily could. If it ever started to get dull, she’s be able to keep us focused and attentive.

That becomes important if you’re someone who needs their movie to have a narrative which drives everything along. Frances Ha is not a plot-driven film. It has a character go from point to point but without much reason. Most of the time, she just happens to find a place, stay there for a while, learn a lesson, and then move onto the next place. There’s a lack of focus to the story and if that irritates you then you’re likely going to have some issues with Frances Ha. This didn’t particularly bother me, but I can see some people having a problem with it.

Frances Ha is a fun, likable, and relatable movie about a woman trying to find her place and maybe grow up a little bit. It doesn’t have a lot of plot, instead wandering somewhat aimlessly from place to place, teaching its lead character a lesson each time. It’s successful as a drama, it’s moderately funny, and it’s never dull. Greta Gerwig is a delight to watch on-screen. It wonderfully captures a mood and time in a person’s life, and it’s a lot of fun to watch while it does it. Frances Ha is worth seeing.

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