Director: Noah Baumbach
Studio: RT Features, Pine District Pictures, Scott Rudin Productions
Stars: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver
In his newest and aeriest film, writer-director Noah Baumbach appears to be as enchanted by Brooklyn and his star Greta Gerwig as Woody Allen was with New York City and his star Diane Keaton in 1979’s Manhattan. Frances Ha, filmed in retro black and white and swooning with nostalgia for European and American movies of the ’60s and ’70s, centers around Gerwig, who also cowrote the film, as an aimless, childlike, pratfall-prone eccentric closing in on 30 but acting like an overly pampered, self-obsessed, super-entitled adolescent.
She doesn’t seem to want to be much—except, maybe, a modern dancer—or to do much except hang out with her roomie and bestie whom she sees as “the same person” as she (Mickey Sumner). In between, she pals around with her quasiartsy crowd of cynics and complains about douchey, fedora-wearing poseurs she sees as great dating material (Adam Driver) and loses her moorings when her roommate throws her over for a boyfriend. There’s not much forward thrust to the movie. Our hapless heroine moves from one apartment to another and, on a wing and a prayer, takes a trip to Paris. Baumbach’s gentle, wry, lovely movie, scored to classic film music by the late Georges Delerue, invites us to worry about how reality keeps bitch-slapping the spoiled but amiable and irrepressible heroine prone to making terrible decisions about her personal life.
No big, overarching statement gets made and no corny conclusions or lessons get learned. The dialogue is almost consistently sharp and funny, and Gerwig has a loopy, gawky grace that might have been at home in the old Warhol factory days. She and the movie around her make for a loose, endearing and accessible 86 minutes.