Review: Frances Ha (15)

It’s hard to warm to Frances, heroine of Noah Baumbach’s latest rumination on love and sex and the whole damn thing.

She’s a ditherer, a daydreamer, a 20-something loafer with grand ideas and a lot of excuses for not following them. As played, convincingly and irritatingly, by Greta Gerwig Frances ricochets around her various friends and acquaintances, never finding a base or putting down roots. Baumbach sets up Frances as a quirky chick. The fact is that she’s 27 and undateable. 
When she moves in with manpals Lev and Benji she finds herself between two very different approaches.

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Lev is a babe magnet. Benji is a writer and, to all intents and purposes, Frances’s best friend. But sex is a no-go area. Thus it is that Frances – drifter, immature eccentric, wannabe dancer – is forever searching for a meaning to an increasingly empty life of her own creation. Frances Ha is a movie about friendship and how each of us defines what friendship is and what it means to us. For Frances it involves masticating the notion of love, loyalty and devotion. It means running far away. And it means embracing the jealousy of others even when the jealousy is self-created and self-inflicted. Baumbach, the writer/director of Greenberg, and The Squid and the Whale, has fashioned a film that is equally annoying and joyful. Gerwig’s approach to Frances is to attempt to make her likeable, and she is. But her quirks allow only a few brief moments in her company. And when she flees to Paris the departure comes almost as a relief. And the title? It’s explained in the closing seconds of the film and provides one of the film’s real smiley moments.

On limited release