Monday, June 3, 2013
Love: Frances Ha
At first, it seems like Frances Ha may lead in that direction. Baumbach's latest outing is a small-scale ode to French New Wave, Woody Allen, and his leading lady/real life girlfriend: Greta Gerwig. Baumbach and Gerwig have pinned down the curious ways in which contemporary Brooklyn seems to be reaching back towards the New York depicted in Allen's Manhattan. The American Apparel-style clothes are interchangeable with the threads of 1980, the struggling artists and trust fund babies are equally insufferable, the eyeglasses have come full circle. The superficial similarities work in the film's favor to build a sense of deep nostalgia around Frances Ha. It's a movie that feels well-worn, like we've seen it a dozen times already, but which is somehow brand new.
Wholly independent and stubborn to the last, the film follows Frances as she embarks on hardships that she seems to treat like isolated adventures. She takes on trust-fund hipster roommates (Adam Driver and Michael Zegen) until she can't afford to do so any longer, she refuses to compromise her dancer dreams until she finds herself unemployed, she goes home and doesn't let her parents know she's struggling, she jets off on a weekend in Paris that she accidentally sleeps through half of. When she speaks aloud about each moment (if she does), the more well-adjusted around her seem to belie their discreet judgments. Her friends and peers have moved on to talking about careers and homes, they're getting married and beginning to have kids. As they listen to Frances, they seem to be edging away, unsure of how exactly to respond. She's a struggling artist who talks, in long, broken, dazed sentences, about big ideas she can't quite articulate. Yet, while her own brand of intellectual narcissism leads her towards stubbornness, she's forever her own person and never as hateful as the characters (just on the periphery) depicted in, for example, Girls.