Friday, July 17, 2015

FRANCES HA (2012)



Directed By: Noah Baumbach 
Written By: Noah Baumbach & Greta Gerwig 
Cinematography By: Sam Levy 
Editor: Jennifer Lame 


Cast: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver, Michael Esper, Grace Gummer, Michael Egan, Josh Hamilton


Frances lives in New York, but she doesn't really have an apartment. Frances is an apprentice for a dance company, but she's not really a dancer. Frances has a best friend named Sophie, but they aren't really speaking anymore. Frances throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possible reality dwindles. Frances wants so much more than she has but lives her life with unaccountable joy and lightness.

I am not going to lie. Going Into this film I was very enthusiastic. Once the film Began I was in tune with it, Then the spirit left me for about the first 30 minutes I was slightly appalled as it seemed to revolve around characters I couldn't really stand and I would find it hard for an audience to. Also the problems in which they complain we're so superficial that it felt more like a hipster film full of pretension. Until the film hit a certain point to reveal we had to spend time with those characters to observe a certain contrast and evolution of the lead Character after that the film seemed to be smooth sailing and approached admiration for me.

I have to say for the first half of the film. It's hard to Identify with any of the Characters as they are vain and snobby without really realizing it, though try to play off as impoverished. That it became sickening to sit through.

The film Was shot as low-key and covertly as possible on New York City streets, and was officially known as 'Untitled Digital Workshop'. While the film seems like a perfect homage to the French new wave school of film-making. It still fails to engage truly past being an experiment and character study. As while we get a look at the main character. It still feels kind of vapid as we witness her quirks and lifestyle, but there never feels to be any real hardships or despair that is really hard hitting. It more feels like privledged angst.

This could be seen as a homage to the film MANHATTAN by Woody Allen the black and white cinematography and the relationships here the film stays with the main character always and not so much the supporting cast only here it’s less about romantic love and more about spiritual mutual love between friends and growing up and realizing you have to not only make your own way in the world, but things can't stay the same friendships evolve. They can't be like the old days but they can remain. Sometimes they are even more intimate then. Romantic relationships.

While the film does examine her deep friendship that almost feels like a relationship. It also seems like she was the one more invested in it. As the friend like an ex is still around and only realizes how much she needs and misses Frances once she is gone or not around.

Director/co-writer Baumbach shot the movie in black and white to 'boil it down to its barest bones' and create an immediate "history" and "a kind of instant nostalgia.'

Contrary to the movie's improvisational feel, the actors followed a very tightly-written script with little to no deviation.

One scene I admired was the faculty reunion lunch and how even in a dramatic setting in the background there was a little comedy that was introduced earlier going on more physical than Verbal. It just reminded me of the little details of the film that really impressed me.

Greta Gerwig to me always seems to play the same variation of the same character. Now while I like Gerwig as an actress. I also notice for all the indie roles she plays. They seem similar and seems to be becoming cliche for her. As it seems with every new role there is barely a difference from one to the next for the most part when it comes to her. Almost just an extension or the same character in different circumstances and mood. She does do here but oddly this feels like more of a breakthrough performance. As she is playing the slightly older version of this character as the film shows. This Character also seems to finally be filled and finds a truth within herself. So much so that this film feels like a valentine to the character and the actress letting her shine while showing an admiration.

Now as Greta Gerwig is co-screenwriter this is really a showcase for her. Normally we shouldn’t have a problem with self promotion of it helps get you work and shows off your skills. It's just that the character she creates seems more like an attempt to charm the audience and become a screen sweetheart rather than a challenge or a real character with flaws. As even as self centered her character is, she is also one of the few actually likes or characters.

She is in every scene in the film, Even her character’s parents are played by Gerwig’s real life parents

While the film is fun, and independent of spirit. Because of the star it also feels kind of familiar. Which is what keeps it from being a true dynamite specimen. Though of the first time really noticing her. Definitely a great introduction. It is worth watching. Luckily it is so quick and airy that it’s energy is felt and feels refreshing all the way until it’s over and a bit after. The film also seems to be a bit influenced by the French new wave so of course it seems perfect to have a bunch of scenes revolve around her trip to Paris. Which has it's natural beauty but isn't presented as some Romantic fantasy and more like a trip and the realty of one.

The film is shot beautifully and I enjoy it's dramatic spirit though more realistic comedic outlook. Finding it's humor more in the day to day situations and manners then in grand actions.

Grade: B

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