Uncharted Filmhaüs: Reviewing ‘Frances Ha’

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Welcome to Uncharted Filmhaüs: the magical land of films you’ll probably never watch.

Frances Ha

Frances-Ha-film-still-3Released 2013 – Writer/Lead Actress Greta Gerwig; Writer/Director Noah Baumbach

“I’m sorry, I’m not a real person yet.”  – Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha

While it is almost certain that most people will probably never fully understand or appreciate Greta Gerwig, the truth remains that most people are Greta Gerwig. They just don’t know it yet. And in the 2013 release Frances Ha, Gerwig finally masters the art and performance of our collectively oblivious movement.

Seven years ago, in her 2007 debut film Hannah Takes the Stairs, Gerwig presents the moment-in-time story of a young woman moving through the basic steps of relationship realization. While this early film lacked any concept of time, proper acting, or a budget, Gerwig still managed to lay the perfect foundation for her future attempts at proving the falsehood and counter-productivity of the traditional paths of adulthood. Gerwig has an obsession with exposing the pretentious and deceptive traps of responsibility and sophistication in a way that reminds us just how wonderful it can be to deny maturity access to our souls.

In Frances Ha, Gerwig plays Frances, a twenty-seven year-old New Yorker, who faces the challenges of getting older as her friends move forward in life and she stumbles in the opposite direction. Frances bounces from apartment to apartment, roommate to roommate, constantly left behind as she watches others earn promotions, become engaged to be married and move to the next chapters of life. For Frances, the bait of getting older is met with a childlike scowl and an immature resistance. However, it is in Frances’ stubborn protection of the youthfulness of her dreams that ultimately allows her to make well-timed and self-serving decisions for her own path, instead of the surrendered and mundane decisions of the common path.

The wisdom of this film lies in the perfectly balanced naivety and tenacity performed by its central character. This film is a “grass is always greener” story that shows exactly where the grass is always greener. As the audience, we receive the early opportunity to laugh at the immaturity of the bumbling Frances as she just can’t seem to get her act together. But what intrinsically occurs is the envy of her spirit – the envy of being broke in New York City and chasing a dream. The raw desire to wake-up in Manhattan, kill time, screw up, and do it all again tomorrow. This film is not about regret, but instead, honesty and revelation in 90 minutes. While it may sting, it clearly shows us how, at one time in our lives, we’ve all abandoned our dreams in the name of maturity, and made our own paths just a bit more artificial. Frances insists that she must fully accept herself as immature, ill-prepared and goofy before allowing herself to take another step forward.

For it is not we who need to change, but instead, it is the unfair societal expectations that need to step aside. And while Frances does not dream big, she refuses to accept anything else.

So sit back, grab a bowl of popcorn & stretch your legs, your mind, and your soul.