I fell in love with Noah Baumbach‘s newest flick, Frances Ha, on an internet date during TIFF 2012. The date was mediocre – on par with two friends hanging out… two friends who will never talk to each other again… – but the movie was great. I ended up seeing it twice that week.
Starring Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, and Adam Driver (from everyone’s beloved GIRLS), it’s a film about the lovely complications between two best friends struggling with the conceptions and pressures of daily life. To summarize: probably not the best film to watch with a stranger who has no idea about the then-recent, raw, and open wound still pulsing from fighting with your own very absent best friend… But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
The film is powered by Frances’ (Gerwig) awkward sense of normalcy. Her perception of her surroundings is wholly relatable; she’s hopeful in just the right amount of ways that we feel for her and, in turn, relate to her. We all have a friend who changes directions and leaves you feeling like you just can’t keep up no matter how fast you run. Well Frances Ha is about the dust that you’re wading through as this happens. It’s harsh and it hurts and, here, it’s somehow funny. Frances Ha is like laughing at a memory you had that was entirely too embarrassing and unbelievable to take seriously. You’re not laughing because it’s funny, you’re laughing because you’re shocked that it still pains you as though it happened yesterday.
Frances’ capability to ask the questions about life we all internally wonder while avoiding complete and utter eye contact with the world/the viewer creates a sense of internal intimacy that we bond with. We understand her. She’s quirky and vulnerable and in a tough spot and that makes her beautiful; it’s these subtleties that power her character and let us fall in love with her.
Sometimes friendships don’t mend, but this story does what all good stories do – it gives the reader the hope that situations could change, could get better, and could be different – and less shit – than it is now. It’s easy to dwell but Frances doesn’t. She just gets drunk at a childhood friend’s house and then goes to Paris for two days on her credit card’s expense. It’s what any lost and lingering soul would do.
If you can’t relate to any of this, at least you’ll laugh. You’ll be entertained by her vulnerabilities and her search for self. If you can relate, though, you’ll probably crack open that second bottle of wine and wish the movie was a real person you could hug. Not saying that I did that, but I kind of did.
This is one I’d watch over and over again. Because validating heartache is sometimes the best remedy.