Film Title: Frances Ha
Starring: Greta Gerwig
Dir: Noah Baumbach
Sometimes there are universally-loved films, like The Lion King — they are rare, and perfect in every way and you can hate them only if you were born without a heart. Most times, a film is good only as long as you can relate to it. A movie is a piece of art, and art is subjective. Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha dances along the fine line that separates both the aforementioned scenarios.
If Jim Jarmusch and Woody Allen got together and made a movie, their progeny would be a lot like Frances Ha. The film has Jarmusch’s trademark coffee and cigarettes approach to delving into the postmodern psychological subculture of the youth, with Allen’s wonderfully buoyant quirky and neurotic atmosphere, along with Baumbach’s own unmistakable sensitive touch.
Starring Greta Gerwig in a breakthrough role, Frances Ha is for everyone and anyone who would like to gain some perspective on their own life through a movie. On that front, Baumbach has made a movie for every twenty-something in Bombay. Gerwig’s character Frances is in her late twenties, and is struggling to get her life in order. She preferred to take the artistic route rather than the corporate one, and is naturally scuffling to find any firm ground and draft a career. Baumbach explores the financial and psychological aspect of Frances’ career choice. She struggles to grow as a person and is so attached to her best friend and roomie Sophie that she is unable to process anything when the latter moves out.
Baumbach does a great job of establishing the perceptual problems of Frances’ stagnant life and her inability to gain some focus and independence. Like any artist or struggler in Bombay, Frances has to face the realisation of suddenly being too old to date someone in their early twenties. She has to deal with the fact that her close friends are moving on with their lives and leaving her behind. She has to digest the bitter irony of being single while facing the eventuality of her roomie getting married. The best part is all these seemingly depressing themes are established with humour and Gerwig’s incredibly lovable persona and comic timing.
Gerwig and Baumbach are in a relationship in real life and it’s fun to wonder how much of the film was based on her own life’s experiences. There are very few movies of this genre that have a protagonist who exudes sympathy without expecting pity, and Baumbach and Gerwig deserve brownie points for that. This is a rare movie that ends on a hopeful note that doesn’t feel like a contrived life lesson. The film is set in New York but the Bombay parallels are obvious, and Frances Ha is really a piece of art for Bombayites who can project their own experiences onto it.
Mihir fadnavis is a film critic and certified movie geek who has consumed more movies than meals.