Monday, 29 July 2013

REVIEW - FRANCES HA


The wry comedian in Noah Baumbach won't be kept down. In Frances Ha, he's not parodying these insufferable hipsters. He loves them too much to be that mean. But there are things that only a friend can say, and as a friend to his characters, he's allowed to say them. He gives credence to their causes just as he undermines them, and encourages his cast to expose elements of themselves that are unattractive or unseemly. Because he is that wry comedian before he is anything else, and no matter how much respect he has for these people, they're all subject to his sardonicism at some point. By the end, I too loved these insufferable hipsters, and it was Baumbach's (and Greta Gerwig's) willingness to lay them each bare when it was required, or even when not, that earned my love. We're privy to their few moments of triumph, but also to their many moments of embarrassment. The throbbing awkwardness that is captured so acutely throughout Frances Ha is captured so with a surprising lack of pretentiousness. Indeed, perhaps it's Baumbach's honesty, perhaps it's the fact that, as one of these characters himself, his familiarity with their lifestyles fends off any crass romanticism, but this isn't nearly as pretentious a movie as it might appear to be. Self-awareness is largely kept at bay, and is mostly only employed in the pursuit of humour, and a successful pursuit it is, as Frances Ha is a terrific comedy at times. Mickey Sumner is brilliant as Sophie, but the film is thoroughly Greta Gerwig's, of course. Frances is ever-chipper, ever-hopeless, to the point that you realise that anyone with any less carefree self-assuredness would probably have jumped off the Manhattan bridge after all she puts up with. But Frances' effervescence sees her through every painful minute of it, and Gerwig is so completely immersed in her role that there's never a smidgen of doubt that she'll make it through.