Film Review: Frances Ha

I can’t remember why exactly but Frances Ha is one of those films that I have always been drawn to, always had on my radar as a film to see, but never actually bothering to make the effort to do so. There was always another film, another day, some poor excuse as to why I kept letting it slip past. Kept putting it off. But intrigue finally got the better of me, and thanks to the Curzon Home Cinema service, I finally spent an evening in the company of Frances.

The first thing I would say is that my entire preconceived view and opinion on the film was based purely from the trailer. I have vague relocations of hearing Mark Kermode’s review of the film, but my memories are so old that I’ve actually forgotten which side of the fence he fell [looking it up for a link, in fact he didn’t review it!]. And I hadn’t read, seen or discovered my other reviews or critiques. Everything was based on 2 minutes of teaser footage designed to sell the film in a positive light.

Greta Gerwig 01 - Frances Ha

And sell the film it does well. Unlike a lot of trailers that spoil films, or worse portray an entirely different story, the trailer really does give a true reflection of the style and tone of the film but manages to do so without destroying the plot and that’s a good thing. There is nothing worse than sitting down to watch a film where beginning, middle and end have already been presented in clip note form. However, one of the reasons that the trailer is able to achieve this feat is because I’m not exactly sure what the plot is; there definitively is one but it’s not a clear point A to point B to point C then conclude at point D Hollywood blockbuster style story in which you can guess the ending long way the credits ever roll.

In fact, Frances Ha feels more like a meandering river, in which the film winds a path of least resistance appearing to go almost where it fancies and without worrying about the structure of its plot. This may sound like a bad thing, but honestly, it’s not. It somehow works. It creates a charm and beauty. It creates a film whereby you become totally connected to the Frances and her interactions with the people around her. Rather than following her story, you feel drawn into it, and in one respect start feeling like you’re there in the room. You don’t feel emotive as the film goes on, you’re not overcome with happiness, or sadness and you’ll never be moved to the edge of your seat. But you will find yourself feeling decisive and comparative. Asking yourself how’d you’d react to the situations she’s faced with, and the actions she’s take.

Greta Gerwig 02 - Frances Ha

Because Frances Ha relies so heavily on its ability to talk with its eyes, so to speak, to create a world that we believe in 100% as real for Frances to exist within rather than any use of sub plot or layers, the film is reliant, to a point of almost saturation on the performance of Greta Gerwig. And she doesn’t disappoint. It’s actually a weird situation, but I’ve never seen Gerwig in anything before, and maybe it just goes to show how strong her performance is, but she felt like an actress I was instantly reconnected to. I felt safe watching her. I felt like I already knew her performance wouldn’t disappoint.

I can’t review the film though, without mentioning the fact it’s in black and white. Sometimes it can really add something to a film – for instance, it adds a real sense of depth and bleakness to Nebraska – but it never feels really necessary in this but at exactly the same time feels the most important aspect in creating the tone this film needs. You don’t wish the film was in colour, and you don’t feel you’re getting anything extra only being presented with a monochrome palette, you just know, however, that if you were seeing the film in colour it’d be poorer for it.

Greta Gerwig 03 - Frances Ha

Frances Ha is a film that for may appear to have a monostatic plot, under developed characters and an overly simplistic view on life but for whatever reason, you honestly won’t care. Frances Ha takes a thorough fun and free spirited girl and shows us all that life gives us all a good kicking from time to time and that we need to learn to take the rough with the smooth, to swallow our pride and live by the decisions we make because ultimately, time ticks by and things go up and down. It is a film that feels like it’s true, like it’s real. It’s a potentially depressive story that manages to be uplifting and inspiring and I just wish I hadn’t put off seeing it for so long.

8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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