Francis Ha

(USA, 2012, 86 mins, DCP)
Director:
CAST Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver, Michael Esper, Grace Gummer
Classification: 14A

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Frances Halladay (Greta Gerwig - who also cowrote the script), is a kind of new millennial Annie Hall in all her klutzy, kooky glory: a young woman about town, a dancer who is beginning to realise she may not have what it takes, a single gal in love with who she is when she’s with her flat-mate, Sophie (Mickey Sumner).

When Sophie announces she’s moving in with her fiancé Frances is devastated. But she lands on her feet, moving in with hipster guys Lev (Adam Driver) and Dan (Michael Esper), and making a solid attempt to recreate her Sophie-rapport with the latter. Alas, Frances cannot afford to keep up her share of the rent, a hoped for job does not materialize, and her already frail sense of self-esteem begins to fracture.

Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale; Greenberg) is just at the very top of his game here. This is what a real director can do: bring authentic characters and situations to vibrant comedic life with minimal set up or fuss. Shot in gorgoues black and white, Frances Ha is superbly well-observed. It never rings false, never mis-steps, and at the end of it you may not be quite certain what it is that you have seen, but you will know that is has struck something true in your heart, something about being young and vulnerable and not quite sure of yourself yet, and about how even when you think they’re breaking you, hard times have a way of making you who you are meant to become.

"An irresistibly lovely, melancholic acknowledgment that love is impossible, and that the more candid a young woman is, the less eligible she becomes in the standard romantic sweepstakes… Frances Ha also marks the rare instance in which an actress has the perfect role at the perfect time. Ms. Gerwig’s work here is fragile, delicate, subject to bruising; something that could wither under too much attention. Perhaps Ms. Gerwig is the greatest actress alive. And maybe Frances Ha is just the ghost orchid of independent cinema." John Anderson, Wall Street Journal

"There’s an optimism and an empathy in “Frances Ha” that feels genuine and earned.The plot doesn’t build to a gigantic, sweeping climax, but the understated final moments made me happier than any other filmgoing experience I’ve had all year." Alonso Duralde, The Wrap