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Review: Frances Ha

Wednesday 14 August 2013
Words Spindle

Hey twenty-something millennial. How you doin’? Looking for a feel good film that’s as witty and charming as Annie Hall, with a pinch of real life disappointment a la HBO’s Girls? Then check out Greta Gerwig’s star turn in Frances Ha.

This film portrays the life of 27 year old New Yorker Frances Hadley as she navigates her way into adult life and tries to make it as a contemporary dancer.

It also stars Mickey Sumner (daughter of Sting) as Sophie, Frances’ best friend who has been by her side for her entire life. “Tell me the story of us” she asks Sophie in the opening scene, as the close friends plan to take over the world and become famous modern dancers and publishing moguls respectively.

But things start to unravel from the get-go. The boyfriend who texts Frances with the greeting ‘Ahoy sexy!’ is kicked to the curb instantly and Sophie moves to an expensive apartment in Tribeca. This leaves her former flatmate Frances afloat and financially broke. Things continue to screw up, just when Frances moves in with a handsome duo of rich boys (one of which is Adam from Girls) she loses her job at the dance company.

We follow the scruffy blonde as she jumps head first into a series of disasters. But throughout all of her low points (which include following people around as a ‘wine pourer’ at parties and moving back into her college dorm for the summer) the 27 year old shows resilience, strength of character and always keeps a smile on her face. By the time we get to the scene with Frances running and dancing through the streets of New York to the soundtrack of David Bowies ‘Modern Love’, you’ll have fallen head over heels for this film, and character.

The story is punctuated with brilliantly executed lines that will hit home with anyone who’s in the latter part of their twenties.  In one scene Frances has to run half way across Manhattan when the restaurant she’s at doesn’t accept debit cards. “I’m sorry, I’m not a real person yet” she shouts to the waiter as she runs out the door. We then see her agonizing over accepting a $3 banking charge. Hey, we’ve all been there!

One of the funniest scenes, which is also one of the most depressing, depicts the dirt-poor dancer fly to Paris for a weekend on a whim using a credit card she ‘got in the post’. Her loneliness is amplified as she wanders the Parisian streets alone, having managed to sleep through her friends calls after necking some sleeping pills. She returns to New York, kicking herself for being so indulgent.

It doesn’t matter though, because it all comes good in the end. The last scenes show the character showing her debut dance production as all of her friends watch on adorningly and her old flatmate enquires whether she still considers herself ‘undateable’.

What’s surprising about this film is how deliciously rich it is. Nothing much happens and the pace is slow, (just like real life) but the spot on examinations of growing up and friendships give us one the freshest and most honest looks at life for people trying to find their place in the world today.

The story, co-written by Greta Gerwig and her director boyfriend Noah Bambauch, will have you leaving the theatre with a spring in your step and humming Bowie’s show stealing tune.

Words: Tia Clarke