Frances Ha is a film directed by Noah Baumbach, with a screenplay written by Baumbach and Greta Gerwig. The movie is a character study about Frances (Greta Gerwig), an aspiring dancer in New York City who must learn to live her life independently of her best friend Sophie (Mickey Summer), who decides at the beginning of the film to move in with her own boyfriend. Frances encounters a variety of life-impacting obstacles, but her constant joy and cheerfulness allows her to keep striving for her dreams, despite the many hardships she faces.
This is my first encounter with director Noah Baumbach, but after seeing the film, I want to make sure it is not my last. Ranking this film so high on my list is definitely a hipster move, but the first time I watched Frances Ha, I was thoroughly impressed with the work. Baumbach and his leading lady Greta Gerwig wrote one of the funniest scripts of the entire year, although it strikes the comedic chords in such a subtle, but entertaining manner. I enjoyed following Frances through the city as she attempted to make something of her life, and with the passing of every moment, I began to like her more and more. I credit this to a wonderfully developed screenplay.
Speaking of Greta Gerwig, she does a phenomenal job as Frances. The character represents the epitome of awkwardness, but her clumsiness is so quirky and innocent. Frances is a complicated character, never seeming too high or too low at any given moment, but Gerwig’s innate charisma allows the brightest characteristics of Frances to constantly shine through. Frances is a careless individual, and this is exemplified in a scene where she travels to Paris by charging the flight to a credit card that she knows she does not have the funds to pay for—Frances does what she wants but always regrets her decisions when the consequences come calling. Her journey throughout the film is characterized by her relationship with her best friend Sophie and the way in which that friendship becomes strained after Sophie moves in with her boyfriend. Frances has never learned to live an independent life, and her constant money problems and failed romantic relationships (one friend continually refers to Frances as “undateable”) seem to be a direct result of her disconnect with Sophie.
This film has a lot less to say about it than most of the films on my year-end list, but that is because it is so incredibly simple. This utter simplicity is one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much, and it is one that I would not mind watching a hundred times over. Frances Ha is rated R for sexual references and language.
Frances Ha trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBn5dgXFMis
Academy Award nominations for Frances Ha:
Previous movies on the countdown of the Top 15 Films of the Year:
5. The Wolf of Wall Street
6. The World’s End
7. American Hustle
8. The Spectacular Now
10. Captain Phillips
13. Fruitvale Station
14. The Place Beyond the Pines
15. Dallas Buyers Club