‘I’m not messy, I’m busy…’
Despite the fact that Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig are both revered in indie film circles, I know very little of their work. The Squid and the Whale is the only other Baumbach film I have seen and whilst I enjoyed it, it wasn’t different enough to make me seek out his other films.
Gerwig is a perpetual indie actress who specialises in small budget, Mumblecore flicks. I’m quite surprised she has never gone full Hollywood as she brings a natural and breezy charm to Frances Ha. Gerwig carries the film with a believable and refreshing performance. I am not a woman (shocker), but I am married to one, so I know that messy bedrooms and unexplained bruising are par for the course for the kind of audience that Frances Ha would appeal to. References to Virginia Woolf and a trip to Paris compound existing cliche’s but Gerwig is relatable enough to carry it off.
The problem with Frances Ha is aside from Gerwig there is very little else to enjoy. Adam Driver exudes film star class, years before he would become Sith lord Kylo Ren, but he is criminally underused. The rest of the cast are caricatures or just plain annoying. Also it is hard to fully sympathise with Frances when she is a dancer in New York, a life that would be a dream for literally millions of other people.
All that aside, Frances Ha is funny, realistic and nicely shot. Maybe a man from South Yorkshire is never going to fully understand a film set in New York and written from a woman’s perspective (Gerwig shares a co-writing credit with Baumbach) but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it.