TIFF12: My Thoughts on Frances Ha

After helping introduce her to mainstream audiences in Greenberg, Noah Baumbach reunites with Greta Gerwig (who also co-wrote) in this new quirky comedy.

The film focuses on Frances (Gerwig), an apprentice for a dance company, who lives with her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner).  The film is portrayed almost like a series of extended vignettes, which are divided by the location where Frances is currently living.

While the film has a modern setting, it is filmed in black and white and has the feel of a French New Wave film from the 1960s.  It is almost like the film is Frances’ vision of the “movie of her life.”  The film has very little score, though music will play to punctuate a scene.  Most of the music in the film are lifted from actual films from the 1960s, though there are a few memorable scenes set to modern music – such as Frances running down the street to David Bowie’s “Modern Love.”

The film has a somewhat basic story, involving Frances trying to find happiness for herself.  She has high ambitions for her dance career, though it’s not progressing as well as she would like it to be.  The main high point in her life is her friendship with Sophie, which takes a bit of a downturn after Sophie decides to move away with her boyfriend.  Frances’ tries to keep any problems in her life a secret from Sophie and it is subtly hinted that Frances might even have a suppressed romantic attraction towards her (she even describes their friendship at one point as being “like a lesbian couple that doesn’t have sex anymore”).

The film as a whole is a pleasant deviation from the style of Noah Baumbach’s previous films.  While most of his previous work covered more serious (and sometimes depressing) subject matter, Frances Ha is very much a very quirky and lighthearted comedy.  The film is very much more sitcom than drama and you have to laugh at scenarios, such as Frances running across town to find an ATM, just so she can pay for a date she was on (with the date – played by Girls‘ Adam Driver BTW – being left to sit at the table).

Overall, I found Frances Ha to be a very enjoyable film and it will probably end up being one of my favourites of the festival.


Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).