“I like things that look like mistakes” – Frances Ha
Frances Ha is a 2012 American comedy-drama film directed by Noah Baumbach. The film stars Greta Gerwig as Frances, a 27-year-old aspiring dancer in New York who struggles to find her place in the world. As she navigates the challenges of adulthood, Frances learns to embrace the uncertainty of life, finds her own path and is a reminder that it is okay to be a little lost.
There are not many coming of age stories for those in our 20s and so Frances Ha is a singular unique tale for many of us. 20s are often the most transformative and challenging decades for many of us so its a surprise there are not many films with characters in this stage of life. As someone who freshly entered their 20s, Frances Ha is a film that spoke to me and my personal thoughts for so long.
Frances is many of us. She is awkward, unusual, messy, childlike and free spirited and really more about vibing to live rather than having a solid structure for life. She makes mistakes, is lost, and does not have a lot of confidence in herself. She is living day by day by doing the bare minimum to survive life but never anything bigger. She is chaotic, disorganized, and still has the spirit of a curious exploring child in her. None of these are necessarily detrimental to her but in retrospect to her peers, it can feel like she is falling behind who are finding success in their careers, love and are “settling down”. And isn’t that often many of us in our 20s? This is why watching Frances and her journey made me and will make so many others feel validated in our experiences and give hope for the future. This film will make anyone feel seen in a big or small way which makes for a emotional and distinctive experience.
The main themes in the film with Frances is identity and purpose ( the defining pinnacle of our 20s). With heavy themes to explore, the film is an equal mix of simplicity and complexity. The cinematography is “simple” as the entire film is in black and white which creates a timeless experience with the film to complement France’s journey. The film is also simple in its scenes following Frances’s life. For her its work, home, friends, one trip with her family, and constantly moving around which is a relatable lifestyle for the audience. There is nothing dramatic or large that happens to amp up the viewing experience. It quiet literally feels like an extended vlog of Frances’s life as she’s just living. These choices to have a simple help craft an immersive and personal experience for the audience.
The complexity and power in this film is in the script. It is full of life while trying to define what is life. It has a naturalistic dialogue that is phrased smartly where there are many powerful lines that are impactful. The screenplay never feels corny or overindulgent but has its little quirks with each character’s unique personalities . The script makes sure to portray each character uniquely with their lines giving them depth and authenticity. This film is not here to make a point but rather to capture the raw human experience and the choice to make it as simple as it can be makes the film masterful. The film also has a playful soundtrack, loose costume design, and a smooth transition between the scenes . It feels like a video camera reel our parents make of us when we are kids. Greta is the perfect actress to play Frances with her awkward expressive emotions and carries herself too strongly. Noah Baumbach’s direction is strong and straightforward which fits the film to convey the story. Noah does not try to do anything inventive which further contributes to the film’s genuineness.
In conclusion, I highly recommend everyone to check out Frances Ha because the film reminds us it is okay to be lost in life and everything will slowly work out all in 90 minutes.
Frances Ha is streaming on Netflix