Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Frances Ha

So I’ve just finished watching Frances Ha, which is an American comedy-drama or ‘dramedy’ (urgh) from the director Noah Baumbach.  He usually writes and directs quirky films such as ‘The Squid and the Whale’ and ‘Margot at the Wedding’ and briefly went mad and did ‘Fantastic Mr.  Fox’ and ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s most wanted’.  I supposed being good at arty quirky films and children’s films implies it is possible to become successful without ever becoming an adult.

Frances Ha is a film that is arty, black and white, and seemingly about nothing.  It’s also fantastic, and hit me in the right way; needless to say I absolutely loved it.  I connected with Frances in a very interesting way, becoming enraptured by her refusal to grow up and get a ‘real’ job, dedicated instead to becoming a successful dancer despite her only moderate talent at it.  Even while her pockets were empty, and her friends were busy getting married, becoming people and making people.

She’s clearly lost and confused about life, and not sure where to turn.  Every time she reaches out to someone or something, it’s transience is revealed and she watches it fall away to reveal that she hasn’t changed, and her life is the same penniless pointless life as it always was.

Frances lives with her best friend Sophie and this is pretty much the happiest she’s likely to be ever, but eventually Sophie selfishly falls in love with some boring man and runs away and gets married despite the fact that she probably shouldn’t.  Frances responds by dating a few men and living with a few artists while trying to improve her dancing career.  The intense and very real struggle is so visceral and familiar.  It reminded me of a dream where I was stood on a motorway while Optimus Prime hurtled towards me and I whispered as loud as I could “Slow Down”… and got smeared across the ground like someone stepping on a sachet of ketchup on the floor of a Wetherspoons.  Well I imagine I did, but instead I woke up.

The sixties/seventies soundtrack and the lovely New York vibe make for a wonderful film.  With the soundtrack a mix between an indie film from 1972 and some cheap porn.  The more romantic of us would definitely be blown away by Frances’s wee rant about what she wants from a relationship, as I’m fairly sure it would melt the heart of any ice-queen/ice-cream-man.  It’s minimalist approach to dialogue and plot, which is hard to say in a positive way, makes this film feel like you are reading the diary entries of a real girl.  Either because you found her diary abandoned on a bus or perhaps because you are a paramedic and found it in her room after engineering her corpse into the back of the ambulance.  However you came across it you can’t help but be touched by her struggle to fit in, and her feelings of being more out of place than lady parts at Elton John’s backstage parties.

I completely understand if you think this film is dreadful, and there are many copies of much more straight forward entertainment out there but for me this one was absolutely delightful and I would urge you to see it.  My Facebook post about it at 4am was “I think this film is too good for the minds of mere mortals and therefore should be banned”.  I’m not sure if that helps.

It’s just a glorious lovely film about trying to live a life.

4/5, would bang. []

Dave Roberts

Frances Ha at CeX

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