'Frances Ha' review: Artful, off-beat comedy charms, uplifts
This off-beat, artful film does what 'The Mindy Project' and even 'Girls' fails to truly accomplish: present a truly focused, wonderfully executed story of sympathetic and realistic single girl living in the city, chasing her dream.
In short: 'undateable' Francis (Greta Gerwig) lives in Manhattan and pursuing her dream of being a professional dancer -- she struggles to realize her dreams of career and friendship as those around her move on with their lives. (watch the trailer)
'Frances Ha' works for two simple reasons: Gerwig excels as the titular Francis and director Noah Baumbach has smartly assembled film that doesn't treat its audience like idiots.
If Francis was obnoxiously sloppy or frustratingly annoying, then 'Francis Ha' would have completely caved in on itself. Gerwig's performance must be noted because she allows Francis make frustrating, condescending and impulsive decisions, while always remaining sympathetic and human. Gerwig succeeds in a careful balancing act of allowing Francis to sometimes be her own worst enemy while simultaneously keeping her an awkward, loveable character. Most importantly, Francis is offbeat and quirky but she never feels like a caricature of the 'young single girl' protagonist.
Perhaps the best compliment is Francis would be a great character for a sitcom - but she is best used in this tightly written, focused film.
Co-writers Gerwig and Baumbach have elevated the 'single girl getting her life together' story to a refreshing new level of cinematic execution. Often, these films or TV shows talk down to the audience with unnecessary exposition and reducing the female protagonist's goal 'getting the guy' instead of character growth.
Baumbach has crafted a story that says more with visuals than with 'let me explain everything' dialogue. The intro montage shows the depth of the friendship between Francis and Sophie with minimal dialogue -- this effectively conveys more than words can simply state and reveals what is at stake for these women.
Final verdict: 'Frances Ha' ranks among the must-see films of 2013.