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Frances Ha

Even if you can't stand films/TV/books about self-involved 20-somethings trying to figure their lives out, this one is poised to charm.
By Rima Sabina Aouf
August 21, 2013
By Rima Sabina Aouf
August 21, 2013

Even if you really, really can't stand films/TV/books about self-involved twenty-something-year-old white people trying to figure their lives out, Frances Ha is poised to charm. Its secret? That's not easy to pin down, although it almost certainly has to do with star Greta Gerwig, and the total her-ness that pervades the film. It's full of energy and optimism and is, for a black-and-white arthouse film, utterly devoid of pretentiousness.

Gerwig wrote this script together with director (and love friend) Noah Baumbach (Greenberg). Though she didn't necessarily envision herself in the lead role, it fits her perfectly, serving as a vehicle for an actor who doesn't quite fit the Hollywood mould to show off her charms. Goofy, socially awkward and totally "undateable", Gerwig's Frances Halladay is one of the most loveable characters you'll meet this year.

Her 28th year ends up being a difficult one, as her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner) drifts away and she misses out on a position at the dance company she's been training with. These two challenges — BFF break-ups and self-actualisation — are the ones that matter here, though there's also the peripheral distraction of boys: the one who leaves her when she won't move in with him (Michael Esper), and friends Lev (Girls' Adam Driver) and Benji (Michael Zegen), who end up her (sometimes awkwardly) platonic roomies.

Frances Ha is a story about coming of age, the late way we tend to do it now. Our heroine is sorting through which parts of so-called maturity are sensible to leading a good life, and which parts are just bullshit. And she's doing it with a scrappy pluck we can all get behind.

It's all wonderfully tangential, sweet and unerringly funny, and it will have you dancing to Bowie's 'Modern Love' for days and days.

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