Thursday, May 23, 2013
Movie Review: How Frances Finds Her Way To Ha
By the time I was 24 years old, I had graduated college, was married, was gainfully employed in a full time job and had already started attending graduate school at night. By the time I was 27, I had my graduate degree and was working an additional part-time job in the evenings as a way to transition into a new career. I was focused and on my way.
But we all know it doesn't seem to work that way anymore.
Instead, young people who pursue higher education very often take more that four years to get their undergraduate degree and then drift along through their twenties trying to figure out what the hell they're gonna do with their lives. They often get continuing support from their parents and, along the way they couple and uncouple, encounter more than a few bumps in the road and often create additional problems for themselves.
Though the real world sometimes tries to send them a chilling wake-up call, it's hard for them to give up their dreams or find a way to balance the aspirational and the practical. For all their "education" many of them often seem clueless.
Which brings us to the chatty, often funny, always revealing new independent film Frances Ha.
Frances is a 27-year-old woman living in New York City. She left her hometown of Sacramento (where he parents still live) to attend college in Poughkeepsie and never returned home, unless you count holidays and "I need help" trips.
She and her best friend from college, Sophie are thisclose. They share just about everything. But they'd be the first to point out to you that they are not lesbians. They've both had numerous relationships with guys -- guys who may not be so smart or so handsome or even very appealing but who still feel no need to pursue women because the women are all, well -- just so available.
Frances still wants to be a dancer. This is her passion. And while she's technically part of a dance company, she's really not part of it. In fact, it's clear she never gonna be part of it.
Unless you make lots of money, the older you get the harder it is to live in New York. For young people trying to make it, it's a world of shared, closet-sized accommodations and a daily struggle to pay the bills.
Frances faces all these woes (and no small amount of rejection) and yet the movie remains as bright as Broadway, where dreams have been known to sprout new life just when all hope appeared to have been lost.
Along the way in this film Frances rejects one of the best opportunities that's offered her, goes back to college but never becomes a student again, takes a weekend flight to Paris even though she has no money, visits he parents and leaves feeling a strange combination of gratitude and emptiness, becomes a homeless, hides her plight from her friends, rejects and former lover and a potential one, confronts the phoniness (and sometimes shallowness) of successful New Yorkers and - eventually - finds her way, sort of.
Filmed in black and white, this low-budget flick produces big time satisfaction because it's all held together by a real-life patina and laced with wonderful dialogue that's funny and clever without being too hip.
Like Frances herself, Frances Ha is unique.
Kudos to Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig who wrote the film; to Baumbach who directed it and to Gerwig who stars in it. And let's not forget Mickey Sumner, Grace Gummer and Charlotte D’Amboise — the daughters of Sting, Meryl Streep and ballet superstar Jacques D’Amboise, respectively. They're also part of this film which is a veritable feast of young talent.
And the name, Frances Ha?
Well, you'll have to stay through till the final scene to find out what that's all about.
But we think it's worth it.