Frances Ha is a black and white indie film from 2012. I had heard about it when Greta Gerwig, who plays the main character of Frances, was nominated for Best Actress at the Golden Globes. Although she lost to Amy Adams for American Hustle that year, I remembered how intrigued I was by the trailer about a young woman looking to make it as a dancer in New York City. I enjoy all things dance, so when it came to streaming Netflix, I decided that now was the time to watch.
Frances (Greta Gerwig) lives with her BFF Sophie (Mickey Sumner) in New York City. Frances is struggling. With finances, relationships, with her dance career. Not quite as talented as, for example, Rachel (Grace Gummer), another dancer in her company, Frances is passed over and not given the roles in significant productions that she used to dance. She is, however, a great teacher to little kids learning how to plie and pirouette in ballet class. She seems to have a knack for choreography as well.
Impulsive to a fault, she charges a very short trip to Paris, and finds herself without many resources available to her when she returns. She spends time with her family in Sacramento, a brief interlude I enjoyed. The scenes of her family celebrating at a Unitarian Universalist (UU) church were especially fun to watch as they are my chosen spiritual community, and I have never seen a UU church depicted on screen. I found it refreshing and a good fit with the character and her passions. (Greta was raised Unitarian Universalist, so that explains the inclusion of the affirming and uplifting scenes in church with her spiritual community.)
Adam Driver appears as Lev, one of Frances’ roommates, but other than Adam, I didn’t recognize anyone else in the ensemble cast. The story is all about Frances coming to terms with her strengths and weaknesses, making some choices, and ultimately coming through to a better place than she was when we met her at her first address.
The screenplay was written by director Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, whom I read are a couple. Noah and Greta developed a really engaging film in Frances Ha.
The film has a Woody Allen-ish feel to it due to the black and white cinematography, and the quickly fired dialogue, reminding me of Woody’s Manhattan. The dialogue was great, very witty, and natural at the same time. The story feels real, almost like it could be a documentary following the moves and travels of Frances as she attempts to navigate her life.
I like indie films; they don’t subscribe to the Hollywood formulas as much, have more of a real feel to them, and often use up and coming talent. An indie film is simply original and creative story-telling by independent filmmakers. For a closer look at indie films, read this article: What exactly is an independent film? And then go spend 90 minutes or so with Frances Ha.