Frances Ha, on its surface, is one of those great coming-of-age stories, well-directed, well-acted with a structurally sound plot. I enjoyed the more unique take on filmmaking that was unique and experimental in it’s totally frill-less, character-driven way. For these many reasons, I expected to truly love Frances Ha. Instead, I found myself being both bored and irritated at several points. It’s a good movie, but it’s not something I particularly enjoyed.
There are a number of reasons for this, but one major one: the unrealistic, quirky hipster at the centre of the film. I don’t need to like a protagonist in order to like a movie. I’ve seen plenty where I’ve hated them but still appreciated their role in the film. In Frances Ha, even with good acting by Greta Gerwig, I could not muster a single strong emotion about her character (utterly based on characterization) other than mild irritation. Frances is flawed, like many good characters are, but not in a way that makes her interesting, captivating or someone you can root for. Neither are her flaws big enough for her to become an antihero. What’s worse is that her characterization renders her almost fully unrealistic, borne out of the minds of hipster/artist writers who believe their own hype and quirkiness. Many of the other characters are more likeable but are no more realistic and no less borne out of the hipster collective. The fact that the film takes itself so seriously does nothing to allay the irritation at these characters.
That’s not to take away from the film’s many triumphs. Even while disliking/not feeling anything for her character, I truly feel like Greta Gerwig produced a really nice performance here. Many of the other characters also gave good performances alongside her. I have already mentioned that I appreciated the filmmaking style employed, even if it came off every now and then in much the same way the film’s characters did. Finally, the actual storyline, minus the cutesiness, was actually well-plotted and highly relevant to our times. As someone within that age range of the main characters, I appreciate the take on the struggles of this period and its own era of discovery and finding out oneself.
Frances Ha, ultimately, is a good movie, but too far up its own self and too full of itself to fully enjoy as it should be. It’s gotten rave reviews, I can see why, and I’m glad I watched it, but I will definitely not be watching it again.