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The Greatest Movies I’ve Never Seen #4: Frances Ha

by gwolinetz on February 6th, 2014

I nearly turned this movie off like 6 times in the first 20 minutes, because it felt like the entire movie was going to be one long episode of Girls. And I absolutely loathe that show. The 5 episodes of the show that I watched and the 2.5 hours I spent watching them are near the top of my list time and energy that I wish I had back. And then, the fucking guy from Girls actually showed up in the film! That’s when I put a bullet through the TV screen. After that, I went out and bought a new TV, and finished watching the movie.

And I’m glad I did, because the movie grew on me. I thought the choice to film it in black and white was interesting. I thought Greta Gerwig was wonderful. She’s a really charming actress, and this role seemed made for her. I know Noah Baumbach has said he doesn’t write roles for actresses, but I find that a bit hard to believe in this context. It seems ridiculous to have to say this, but it’s nice to watch characters that actually, you know, evolve and develop. There’s complexity to each one of these characters. None of them falls into a specific stereotype (except the fucking guy from Girls) and that makes them much more authentic, at least to me. The characters grew up. Because they had to. Because that’s what everyone does, whether they want to or not. The little subplots were enjoyable also: the best friend and her boyfriend. The other dancer who was weird around Frances. The two dudes she roomed with for a bit and their individual life theories. And that he tied it all together having all of them in the audience at the end was a cool little finish.

I don’t know what I’d call this a great movie. I certainly enjoyed it. I see why other people enjoyed it, maybe for different reasons than I did. this isn’t a movie for the annals though. I thought The Squid and the Whale was a significantly better film, with significantly better acting. Actually, for that matter, so were Margot At The Wedding and Greenberg. But this is a nice film. That’s the best word for it. Nice.

All in all, I was pretty happy I spent the 90 minutes watching.

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