Frances Ha (2012) – The Chapter of Our Life

Of most indie films, Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha” is a segmented indie film. With the not-moving-anywhere plot, this film used black and white visual wrapping. One character, through typical dialogues in the mumblecore film, moves from one scene to another. In all scenes, the protagonist is there whether she took the standpoint of a supporting character or not. Most viewers probably think this as a potentially boring movie. But, as a director and writer, Baumbach with his partner, Greta Gerwig as the main star, gave an enthralling performance.

“Frances Ha” is a portrait of the Frances story, played by Greta Gerwig, a 27-year-old amateur dancer in New York. She lives in an apartment with her best friend, Mickey Sumner as Sophie. The conflict began when Sophie moved to another apartment. Frances suddenly in a situation where she had to live her life from now on or not. It’s really simple because the story only departs from the not-too-dramatic conflict. At first glance, this movie offers one small conflict from the life of the protagonist. There is a problem how they can survive in a large scope like New York. On the other hand, this film becomes a satire of young hipster life in a metropolitan city.

This is a coming-of-age movie, in the quest for identity and vision of life. Young people have high ideals and passion for pursuing their dream. On the other hand, we just don’t want to grow up. We want to relax, have fun, and not think too much about the future. This isn’t a matter because the lives of characters other than Frances can pursue their goals. But, for Benji (Michael Zegen) and Lev (Adam Driver), they can achieve it. They were born to a wealthy parent. Only with dreams and idealism doesn’t change Frances if she can become a professional dancer.

“Frances Ha” is about hope and idealism in achieving something. However, we are always in a situation where we always procrastinating it. Does Frances have to start organizing her life or still relax first? It’s a hard decision but also easy and complex to say at least. Basically, besides about a coming-of-age and self-discovery story, this movie is simple. It’s about love and friendship, to begin with. It’s a melancholy film, amazingly, too beautiful to be honest. All conflicts and essence summarize everything well, densely, and clearly; like “The Squid and the Whale”. And the good thing is, if I hear David Bowie’s “Modern Love” again, I can’t forget about this movie.

The chemistry between Greta Gerwig and Mickey Sumner is amazing. Their relationship as friends is so weird. People assume that they are a lesbian couple. They can express their personalities. However, one simple stroke began to override their friendship. Their relationship became to stretch when Sophie chose to move to an apartment; she engaged to her boyfriend too. Frances just still didn’t understand this is just part of their life. It’s forcing them both to change and improvise. Speaking of improvisation, this movie has a lot of improvisation where you think they need dialogue whatsoever. But, you can see how the bathroom scene gives them space to move quickly.

“Frances Ha” is very alluring when thinking about its characters including Greta Gerwig’s Frances. In the scene when she is looking for an ATM, it makes you want to support her fully. Quite funny when she suddenly falls. In short, she is naive, quirky, likable, socially awkward, and others. She seems like a character you would think she never existed in reality. But, she is real. She is childish but there are representatives and differences between the other characters. She has charisma, cute, pretty, yet we are easy to love and relate to her.

Most of the time, there is a comedy. The comedy always comes out of nowhere like you always find it in some cartoons in general. But, I usually find it in some anime too. I like comedy like this, sometimes, because you don’t need to laugh out of loud as possible. It’s more like how the honesty of the dialogues in this film doesn’t seem realistic. However, there is something it clicks you right in front of you. On the other hand, the acting is fantastic and I love the visual, inspired by Woody Allen’s “Manhattan”.

“Frances Ha” is a coming-of-age portrait with all the unique compositions and a great mumblecore movie. This movie shows a chapter-by-chapter snippet about the real life of young metropolitan cities. It’s about reflection, how we looking for an identity, conflicts about life’s ambitions to friendship, and romance. It’s easy to relate to this movie. The movie is honest, realistic, smooth dialogues, and comedy. Performance by the actors especially Greta Gerwig is loveable. It’s touching, funny, and melancholy.

4 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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