frances ha review

frances ha review – movie by noah baumbach

review of frances ha movie

a story of a millennial finding her place in life

I’m not really sure what Frances Ha is trying to say, as a movie, but I loved every minute of it. It’s a light exploration of the life of a quirky late twenty-something (the eponymous Frances played by Greta Gerwig) in a big city trying to find her place in life. She has to deal with disappointment as her dream career disintegrates, and her closest friend seemingly abandons her. She tries to fit in to adult society, but fails in a most endearing way. She is declared ‘undateable’.

Keep reading for our Frances Ha review.

the disappointments and challenges – struggling to fit in

At the start of the movie, Frances is sharing an apartment in Brooklyn with her best friend Sophie. Aside from the sex, their relationship is akin to the first six months of a romantic relationship – they talk about and share everything. When her boyfriend asks her to move in with him, Frances refuses, not wanting to let Sophie down – losing her boyfriend as a consequence. Given the opportunity to move to trendy Tribeca however, Sophie has no such qualms, and leaves Frances to move around a succession of apartments and locations through the movie.

At the same time, the dance company Frances dances for tells her that she isn’t part of their future, and offers her a clerical job as a consolation.

a happy ending

Frances struggles to fit it, but despite this and everything that life throws at her, she maintains a sunny approach to the world, and by the end of the movie finds herself in a good place. She is mostly reconciled with Sophie, and is starting on a career as a promising choreographer. Would that real life always turns out so well. But maybe that’s part of the movie’s message – think positively, don’t be bitter and don’t give up, and good things will come to you. Eventually.

Compare and contrast this feel good story with the horrors the immigrants to New York suffer in the excellent movie, Most Beautiful Island

Influences – Woody Allen and French New Wave cinema

The movie is shot in black and white, which could be an homage to Woody Allen movies, some of which, of course also deal with the trials of navigating life in New York City, and could also be an homage to French New Wave cinema. Some of the music featured in the movie is apparently from that era, and there’s a scene with Frances running through New York to the sound of David Bowie’s Modern Love – one of my favourite scenes in the movie actually – which is apparently a virtual copy of/tribute to a similar scene set to the same song in a French New Wave movie.

Frances Ha review

Our verdict: 10/10. I loved Frances Ha. It was easy to watch, funny and stylish, and I loved the quirky character of Frances. The closing scene when Frances moves into her own flat, and in one of her first adult acts writes out her name for the post box only to find that she hasn’t left enough room for her whole name, is gorgeous. The movie left me with a smile on my face, so if your face is in need of a smile, I suggest you invite Frances Ha into your life.

An interesting exploration of some similar themes, this time in the context of working class Tokyo, is the excellent Japanese movie The Tokyo Night Sky.

Have you seen Frances Ha? What did you think? Do you agree with my analysis? Leave a comment!