On Frances Ha

February 3, 2014
February 3, 2014 inkmagazine

On Frances Ha

Kiara Moore
Guest Columnist

Frances Ha, starring Greta Gerwig, is a heart-filled and humorous coming of age story for 20-something-year-olds. It shows a realistic look at the leap from youth to maturity and the struggle that comes along with it.

In the opening scene, frolicking, spirited music plays as Frances and her best friend, Sophie play fight with one another. We see them gallivanting around the streets, happy-go-lucky and lighthearted.

The introductory exposition peers into the intimate, asexual bosom buddies Frances and Sophie.

Described by others as “an old lesbian married couple who don’t have sex anymore,” the two women’s lives are entangled in each other’s.

Frances’s life is centered on Sophie-so much so that Frances refuses to move-in with boyfriend (which results in a break-up) because she plans to continue living with Sophie. So when Sophie decides to move out, her departure unsettles Frances.

Presented in vignettes, scene by scene we see the dissolution of Frances, which comes at a progressively quickening pace.

When Sophie moves out, we see a widening gap between the best friends. Her financial situation grows direr and her aspirations for dancing stardom are not coming to fruition. As we see her surroundings darkening and swirling around her, she is stuck as everyone seems to, especially Sophie, move on without her.

Awkward and full of gauche, Frances fumbles around. Her attempts to get her life together is often met with let-downs; even in the eyes of some of the other characters in the movie, they see her as a mess, a failure as an adult, as someone who at 27 years old still “doesn’t have her shit together.”

The film’s look at friendship was careful, deliberate, and emotive. The thematic thread of the story of Frances and Sophie wasn’t just a story about the ups and downs of friendship; her relationship with Sophie represents her old self that resisted change.

It had to fall a part in order for her to progress forward. Sophie sought her own independence when she moved out of her apartment she shared with Frances and pursued a life separate from the entity of Frances & Sophie.

Her deviance from the future they imagined together was the catalyst to France’s undoing. Frances woke up and the world was spinning and changing at a rapid pace while she sat inert.

I only had one hang-up, in this otherwise incredible film. This movie has elements of a mumblecore such as the naturalistic dialogue but some of the dialogue seemed stilted. The clever interactions seemed too crafted and seemed inauthentic, at times.

I don’t know if I should attribute this to my unfamiliarity to how this crowd of Brooklyn youths speaks or if it’s just heavy-handed scriptwriting.

One of my favorite aspects of the film was the cinematography. The black and white film was stunning, and the monochromatic landscape of the film seemed to be heavy with the implied emotion that the black and white coloring contributed.

The film was interspersed with gorgeous scenes of Greta accompanied by whimsical, uplifting music that intimated the unrelenting and unbending optimism (even when it bordered on delusion) that she clinged to throughout the film and it also showed that although sometimes her life seemed remorseless, she still finds moments of bliss.

The two colors that dominated the film also hint at the tension between France’s unwavering optimism versus the reality of her circumstances.

The movie looks at our transition and transformation from 20-something into adulthood-responsibility, health insurance and a mortgage.

The movie isn’t here to show the audience the way to maturity or admonish people who exist in the indefinite state that France hovered in. It instead gazes truthfully at the struggle towards progression and what a mess we can be.

The movie is about transitioning and the transformation that occurs during great change and who we are as a person when we arise from it.

Like Frances says, “sometimes it’s good to do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it.” Even if it’s means being lost, uncertain, and undecided.

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