Film review: Frances Ha

NEAR the start of Noah Baumbach’s surprisingly sprightly film, impulsive Frances (Greta Gerwig, pictured) skips and twirls down the street to David Bowie’s Modern Love, before abruptly tripping and falling over.

Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha
Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha

Frances Ha (15)

* * * *

There’s a beat pause, before she gets back on her feet again, a little banged up, but still determined to resume her joyful rhythm. If nutshells could be unsubtle, and movies came in them, this would be the encapsulation of Frances Ha.

A slight feature, shot in black and white, it focuses on a gauche, immature young woman who presumes too much on her closeness with her flatmate and best friend (Mickey Sumner, daughter of Sting). “We are like the lesbian couple who don’t have sex any more,” boasts Frances, and almost immediately, her friend decides to move into her boyfriend’s home instead, leaving Frances without a place. From here on, Frances drifts from home to home – a flatshare with two rich boys, a stay with a fellow dancer, an impulsive and expensive couple of days in Paris, which she sleeps through because of jetlag, and eventually back home to mum and dad.

Baumbach and Gerwig have co-written a film about the point when spontaneous, giddy arrested adolescence ceases to be endearing and threatens to be annoying. And as I said, it is a surprising film, because the often misanthropic Baumbach seems charmed, rather than irritated, by Frances’ foolish, funny, inappropriate clumsiness. That’s probably because Gerwig is his girlfriend in real life. In any case, Baumbach’s new lightness of heart is no bad thing.

On general release from Friday