Sunday, June 2, 2013

Frances Ha

Around the time when I was graduating from college, Noah Baumbach's 'Kicking and Screaming' (from 1995, not the Will Ferrell one) was one of my favorite movies.  It struck me as a unique and honest picture capturing the voice of my generation and their post-college educated-yet-unmotivated angst.  Baumbach just seemed to have his finger on the pulse of what that was like, and brought it alive with Chris Eigeman, Parker Posey, Eric Stoltz, Josh Hamilton, Olivia D'Abo, and a slew of other great actors.  It remains way better than any more popular 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High'-type movies.  Now it's almost 20 years later and amazingly enough Baumbach still totally gets it today, even at 43.  Yet it's become harder for me to associate with his characters.

Greta Gerwig plays a 27 year old dancer-wannabe living in NYC who just doesn't have her shit together.  She suffers from those problems that only cute, educated girls from rich families living in New York City who won't commit to a real job because they want to be an artist have.  She complains about how poor she is, yet she lacks for nothing.  She dotes on her gal-pal BFF, seemingly her soul mate, yet all they do is talk about boys.  And she mopes about how she doesn't have a boyfriend, yet she is surrounded by those who would happily have her.  Essentially this is the black & white 'Lola Versus', and Gerwig has cornered the market on this character.  She's perfect for it and it seems to suit her just fine.  And while I would have been gaga for it in 1995, it's a bit harder to swallow now.  As I quickly approach 40 and have had a 'real job' for almost two decades, it's hard for me to understand and sympathize with this type, of which I've known too many.  And yet, I can still totally appreciate a great movie about any subject, and this is certainly one of them, largely due to how utterly charming Gerwig is and how whip-smart the writing is, courtesy of Gerwig and Baumbach.  So, if you're up for a cleverly written, well acted, black and white, fast paced, dialogue driven film about what it's like to be a 27 year old artist/slacker in NYC, this one's for you.  Pair it with 'Lola Versus' and/or 'Greenberg' for a Greta Gerwig-a-thon.

Grade: A-

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