Frances Ha, The World of Baumbach

By Kristin Lvsk

 

‘It’s that thing when you’re with someone, and you love them and they know it, and they love you and you know it… but it’s a party… and you’re both talking to other people, and you’re laughing and shining… and you look across the ROOM and catch each other’s eyes… but – but not because you’re possessive, or it’s precisely sexual… but because… that is your person in this life. And it’s funny and sad, but only because this life will end, and it’s this secret world that exists right there in public, unnoticed, that no one else knows about. It’s sort of like how they say that other dimensions exist all around us, but we don’t have the ability to perceive them. That’s – that’s what I want out of a relationship. Or just life, I guess.’ – Frances

 

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With each new film release Noah Baumbach continuously proves to us that he is the master of perfectly fitting the real world onto the big screen. The funny, clever, lovely life of France Ha, filled with highs and lows, makes for a highly enjoyable hour-and-a-half journey through her personal struggles. Baumbach opens the film with a perfectly edited sequence depicting the everyday interactions between two best friends, showing all of the small intricacies that form their relationship. All of that will change. This velvety black and white masterpiece is a moving portrait of friendship, which shows that even if two people are soulmates, they can nevertheless grow apart as their needs change. The movie focuses on the struggle to move on, which is something we all face at some point in our lives.

The story, co-written by Greta Gerwig herself, proves to us once more that she really is worthy of her praise in the world of contemporary independent cinema. Her deeply touching performance is full of depth and nuance.  She is truly mesmerizing, with her awkward charisma and natural wit endearing her to the audience.

Baumbach perfectly masters the comedy/melancholy, fictional/real life story melange, with all the required elements to be something that any of us can experience, making this film so powerful that while watching it we feel exactly how she feels and follow her all the way through her life adventure.

 

The movie is reminiscent of Woody Allen’s early masterpiece ‘Manhattan’. The artsy shots of New York, beauteous dialogs and humane relationships were definitely an inspiration for Baumbach. Even though there is a certain genius to Woody Allen, I find something even more profound in Baumbach. He manages to replaces Allen’s arrogance and self-awareness with sincerity.

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What makes the movie so sincere is the way Baumbach portrays his leading lady – Gerwig. He casts her often in his movies, and she seems to always embody the same persona. Their obvious director/actress chemistry stems from their off-screen romance. In this sense, they remind me of the ultimate cinema couple – Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina – who in the 60s created some of the most iconic French New Wave films. I also find that Baumbach borrows a lot of stylistic elements from Godard and captures the coolness of New York the same way that Godard did with Paris.

In a big city like NY, the apartment is a personal sanctuary and a part of who we are. For Frances, her apartment is an extension of her personality and works as a metaphor for growing up. When Frances’ best friend moves out of their shared flat to move into a cooler area, she also moves into a state of adulthood that Frances isn’t ready for. Forced to relocate, her search for the perfect apartment mirrors her journey of self-discovery.

We have all experienced highs and lows in life. As we trudge through the lows, it’s sometimes difficult to foresee the highs. But if we hold on and endure, when we do rise again, the feeling of accomplishment will be greater than before, because it will have been worked for. At that moment we can sit back, knowing that it is well deserved.

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