*this review is part of the “now streaming” series of reviews. “Frances Ha” can be viewed on Amazon Prime*
“Frances Ha” doesn’t really do anything, but it does it really, really well. It doesn’t entertain, it doesn’t inform, it just is.
I know, right.
The reason I say this is because “Frances Ha” is really a slice-of-life film. We get to follow the main character, Frances, as she struggles to find an apartment, get a job, succeed at dancing, and make friends in New York City.
The fact that the film doesn’t really have a story is a strength and a weakness. “Frances Ha” is a “mumblecore” film (mumblecore films are indie films characterized by low budgets and naturalist/improvised dialogue and acting) where, instead of the traditional storytelling themes with a beginning, middle, climax, and end, we are presented a series of vignettes where Frances goes about her daily activities.
The plus to this style is that we get to watch a unique type of film (not to mention it’s in black-and-white) with absolutely believable scenes.
The negative is that sometimes it can be boring as hell.
The run time is a relatively average 95 minutes, but after a while, you’ll start to ask
That’s not to say that there isn’t drama. Frances goes through many of the struggles modern 20-somethings face – losing contact with old friends, falling in and out of love, trying to find a sense of purpose, etc. It has a pretty satisfying ending, as well.
The movie stays afloat because of it’s acting, script, and simple style.
Greta Gerwig absolutely carries this movie. She is perfect as Frances, the cute, quirky, emotional, determined, young-at-heart star.
The rest of the cast fill their roles convincingly as well. It is made up of relatively unknown actors, (except for he who is now doomed to only be referred to as “Kylo Ren” or “that Star Wars guy”).
That’s right, ladies. Adam Driver and his cute, yet weird, yet cute face are in the movie. If you want to see him play a gangly hipster like he has in about 90% of his work before Star Wars, have at it.
The script, penned by Director Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, is subtle, funny, and natural. Nothing stands out, and it all seems very real.
The style of the film is striking in that it doesn’t really do anything out of the ordinary. Which is pretty out of the ordinary.
It is shot in black and white, and most of the scenes have few to no cuts. There is no fancy camerawork or editing.
This, combined with the naturalistic script and acting, strip the film down to a bare-bones affair. We are never led to believe we are seeing anything other than real, authentic people in real, authentic situations living real, authentic lives. It is the number one strength of the film.
I can’t say I had fun watching “Frances Ha”, but I’m glad I did. This type of filmmaking isn’t for everybody. If you’re used to watching loud, fast-paced films and are looking for a change in scenery, something to pique your artistic interest or check out a subgenre of film, check out “Frances Ha”.
If not, you will probably be extremely bored and wish you could have the last 95 minutes of your life back.