Review: Frances Ha


Shot in black-and-white, Frances Winston feels that there is more than a nod to Woody Alllen here

Directed by: Noah Baumbach  Starring: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Charlotte d’Amboise, Adam Driver, Michael Esper

Frances Halliday (Greta Gerwig) is a struggling dancer who lives with her friend Sophie (Sumner). However, when Sophie moves out, Frances is forced to find her own way in the world, and realises that she is not quite as grown up as she would like to think. As she flits from one housing, financial or employment disaster to another it appears that she will never get her life in order.

Shot in black and white, there is more than a nod or two to Woody Allen here. Gerwig co-wrote the script with Baumbach, and it is clear she has invested a lot in the character of Frances. You can’t help but feel sorry for her as she lurches from crisis to crisis, constantly putting her foot in it but remaining hopeful that everything will work out. Not much else happens though. It is almost like watching a reality show that just follows her in her day to day life. It is a shame when you have a well rounded character to put her in such staid settings.

I expected to enjoy this more than I did – probably because of all the fuss about Gerwig’s performance. To be honest though, I just don’t get the whole Gerwig thing. She has played the same role in everything I’ve ever seen her in – including here. It just works here. It is also a complicated watch. It is funny in parts, but not funny enough to class as a comedy. It is dramatic in parts, but you wouldn’t call it a drama. The editing also feels disjointed at times, and it can take a second to adjust to what is supposed to be going on in each scene.

Visually, the black and white works well, and there is a great soundtrack of classic tracks that includes music from none other than David Bowie (nothing like a bit of Modern Love to cheer you up). However this is very much Gerwig’s film, and the other characters only serve to help Frances get to the next stage of life. At times, there are lengthy scenes of exposition, and none of the other characters really get a chance to develop properly.

How much you enjoy this film will probably depend on the mood you are in. It is light and frothy as well as being predictable in parts, but on the whole is enjoyable. It is just rather static and not a lot really happens. Gerwig’s Frances is loveable and annoying in equal measure, and at times you just want to shake her and tell her to get a grip. Not a bad writing debut from Gerwig, but definitely could do with more action.

In cinemas July 26th

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