Critics' Pick

Frances Ha (R)

Comedy 86 May 17th, 2013
By Stephanie Zacharek
New York is a cruel and beautiful place, just as 27 is a cruel and beautiful age. In Frances Ha, Greta Gerwig plays a woman who’s feeling the weight of both. Frances is an aspiring dancer who has reached the age when “aspiring” really means not cutting it. Life with her best friend and roommate, Sophie (Mickey Sumner) has taken on the dull glow of old cutlery swiped from the college dining hall—“We’re the lesbian couple that doesn’t have sex anymore,” Frances observes. When Sophie moves out to live with her boyfriend, Frances finds herself adrift, shoehorning herself into new roommate situations. She lacks a job and resources: Encountering a transaction that requires a credit card, which she of course doesn’t have, she blurts, “I’m not a real person yet.” At what age does one become a real person? Frances Ha may be director Noah Baumbach’s tenderest movie, at least among his most recent ones. Shot digitally on the fly, its New York streets rendered in satiny black-and-white, the film is a patchwork of details that constitute a sort of dating manual, one that fortifies you for all the crap you have to deal with when you’re a young person in love with a city that doesn’t always love you back. Frances moves from here to there without flinching, but as Gerwig (who co-wrote with Baumbach) plays her, there’s always a cellophane layer of wistfulness behind her optimism. When you want things you can’t name, how do you search for them?
Noah Baumbach Greta Gerwig, Adam Driver, Grace Gummer, Mickey Sumner, Patrick Heusinger, Hannah Dunne Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig Noah Baumbach, Scott Rudin, Rodrigo Teixeira, Lila Yacoub IFC Films

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