Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Frances Ha (2013) - ★★★★★

Director: Noah Baumbach
Writer: Noah Baumbach
Stars: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Michael Esper, Adam Driver, Michael Zegen, Charlotte d'Amboise, Grace Gummer, Justine Lupe

Frances Ha is undoubtedly my favourite film of 2013! It has a naturally funny, infectious charm about it that just made my heart sing from the opening credits to the end. I love the style, I love the performances, I love the dialogue, I love the characters, I love the music, and I love how different this movie is from anything I've ever seen. It's so refreshing to finally see a comedy about REAL people again, not just the usual cliched throw-up from the same-old comedic actors. This film captivated me so much, that I saw it again the very next day. The characters are at times frustrating and hard to relate to, but that made no difference for me because they were like real people, rather than fictional movie characters. It's definitely not for everyone, but I really identified with the story and characters on film.

We follow the life of Frances (Greta Gerwig), a 27-year-old apprentice dancer who lives in New York with her best-friend, Sophie (Mickey Sumner). They both seem like they're soul-mates, with perfect chemistry, natural banter, and constant fun times. When Sophie moves out, Frances must face the reality that life is not easy when you're on your own. She struggles to advance in her career, make friends, pay rent, and maintain a good relationship with Sophie. Basically, she's like a lost soul swimming in a fish bowl. I personally would call this "a comedy about growing up," because Frances must learn to survive the hard way.

Frances is such a lovable free-spirit! She’s kooky, funny, and sometimes an air-head… but my God how I loved her. She is a perfectly crafted, natural, realistic character. Her comments, her facial expressions, and even her body movements tell us who she is. We get to know her pretty well from the get go, but we truly get a sense of the real Frances as time goes on. She has an infectious charm, like the kind of person you wish was your friend. Loyal, entertaining, friendly, and fun to be around. However, her lack of tact and intelligence does kind of balance out her good traits. For a movie that’s based around the daily happenings of a person, Frances Ha is a surprisingly infectious, wonderful film.

There’s something rare about Greta Gerwig’s performance in this film. Her comedic timing is absolutely flawless. Wait, scratch that. Everything about her performance is flawless. This film just wouldn't have worked without a great leading actress, and man did they find the perfect person to play Frances. She just BECAME her character, and made the whole experience flow and feel like a real story about a real person. There are brilliant moments of sensitivity, fear, and sadness expressed on her face. Yet, she didn't need to have a tragic monologue or outbursts to turn out an unforgettable performance. In my opinion, it's one of the greatest comedic performances of all time. It’s raw, it’s real, and it’s worthy of an Oscar for Best Actress. In my opinion, it’s better than Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in Silver Lining’s Playbook. The difference being that Greta Gerwig portrayed a real person, and Lawrence’s character was very cliché and Hollywood. That’s just my opinion of course, Lawrence gave a great performance.

One of my favourite things about Frances Ha is the way it shows the downfall of what seems like an infallible friendship. I just relate to the situation between Frances and Sophie so much. You think you've found your soul-mate, who will be by your side through thick and thin. Then time and distance creeps in and starts fading away what was a fresh and healthy relationship. Things you thought you knew about your friends start to change, and you question whether you truly knew them at all. Then you become ‘brunch’ friends, where it’s mainly small talk and the odd reference to a good old memory. As time and distance draws the last straw, there’s nothing but air between what used to be the greatest relationship you've ever known. This whole theme is executed perfectly in the film, all because of the electric chemistry between the leading actresses. 

The music at the start/end of each moment is just awesome! Whether it be some catchy 1980s montage tune whilst she’s running down the street, or just some marching band sound effects after a mundane moment, the music just uplifted the mood every damn time. I adored the usage of David Bowie's song, Modern Love. As for the usage of black-and-white cinematography, I think they made the right choice in using that particular style. It made it a visually memorable film, showing New York in a Francois Truffaut like way.

Frances Ha is a film that stands out as a masterpiece to me in many, many ways. The dialogue and performances created a funny, realistic atmosphere that is seldom found in cinema any more. The sounds and visuals on screen elevated the comedy, making it like a modern version of a 1960s French comedy (but set in New York). Most importantly, the film just works as a whole package. The cinematic experience of watching Frances Ha was by far the best I've had so far in 2013. 

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