Chances are the most charming film you will see at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival is Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha. The feature sees him team up with Greta Gerwig in what serves as a love letter to New York and an amusing glimpse at the crossroads in life that many twentysomethings will undoubtedly find themselves at.
Frances is an amusingly awkward young woman (who her friend dubs ‘undateable’) drifting between her student-like lifestyle and ever approaching adult responsibilities.
Baumbatch’s feature has a real sense of authenticity and addresses issues that many young people will undoubtedly feel after moving on from years of studying. We see Frances’ best friend move into a serious relationship, her struggle to make her career as a dancer work out, and her failure to connect with adults. These are showcased through Gerwig and Baumbatch’s smart screenplay and Gerwig’s immediately likeable and rich performance. Whilst it does have a tendency to drift Frances Ha ultimately works because Frances is a character that simply finds herself drifting through life.
There’s a great self-awareness to Frances Ha – it is clear that she is incredibly awkward (hilariously showcased on one scene where she attempts to play fights with someone who does not get her) – yet this is what makes her such a fascinating and undeniably watchable protagonist. There is something admirable about such a lost and aimless character in today’s nine-to-five society, but she is also one driven by fun and expression. Gerwig packs her performance with a slight sensitivity and manages to craft a sense of sympathy in a role that may have lacked it in an another actor’s hands.
The setting of New York and black and white style immediately echoes the charm of Woody Allen’s earlier features, whilst Baumbach appears inspired from the likes of the French New Wave to Lena Dunham’s Girls. Baumbach’s soft, intimate direction crafts a delicate sense of breezy light-heartedness which makes Frances Ha a very absorbing watch.
Frances Ha‘s charming aesthetic and amusing yet sympathetic narrative and characters results in a stellar concoction, perfectly channelled through Gerwig’s pitch perfect leading performance. Frances Ha is a film viewers will be unlikely to forget.
★★★★☆ | Andrew McArthur
Comedy, Drama | USA, 2012 |15 | Edinburgh Film Festival |Metrodome | 21/22 June (EIFF) 26th July 2013 (UK Cinema) | Dir: Noah Baumbach | Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver