The Buzz


Categories: Movies

Effervescent. Bubbly. Sparkling.Somehow all my initial descriptions of Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha sound like an advert for soda pop. Yet, there is an undeniable lightness to the material. Shot briskly in black and white, this isn't a film that lingers on any one moment. Rather it's composed or compressed into Vine-like vignettes. Brief glimpses of the secret world that happens in the moment (to steal a phrase from the film.)

 The movie is a series of compressed vignettes from the life of Frances Ha as played by Greta Gerwig. (Mongrel Media) With the New York landscape and the monochrome treatment it's impossible not to think of Woody Allen's ManhattanGreta Gerwig, who plays the lead Frances, co-wrote the film with director Noah Baumbach. (The two are now in a relationship and you can watch their endearingly simpatico behaviour in my interview with the pair here.)

It's Gerwig's voice, the respect she gives this story about a young woman in freefall, that sets the film apart. Frances is stubbornly independent, scared to accept help and plays it tough in her own scatterbrained manner as she ricochets from one awkward moment to the next.

Any film featuring cardigan-wearing Romeos and cute guys in knit ties named Benji might strike some as self-consciously hip. But the film captures a portrait of people whose life is a work-in-progess. Benji, the asprising writer, is working on a spec script for Gremlins 3. And Frances herself — a sometimes dancer, choreographer and frequent couch surfer.

When we're not watching her stumble through life like a human pachinko ball, much the focus is on the platonic love affair between Frances and her book-publishing blogger roommate Sophie (Mickey Sumner.) As Frances says, they're like an old lesbian couple that don't have sex. There's an intimate shorthand we're privy to, the closeness, the half-finished phrases and habits they share. A connection that bends but does not break as Frances bounds forward.

RATING: 4 out of 5

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