The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Frances Ha | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Frances Ha

An immature twenty-something stumbles her way through a privileged existence.

Directed by: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver, Michael Esper, Grace Gummer

27-year-old Frances finds herself single after walking out on a relationship, partly because the only person she feels comfortable with is her flat-mate Sophie (Sumner). When Sophie decides to move on with her life, however, Frances is left to fend for herself. Somehow, despite being a supremely irritating person, she manages to live off the charity of others, finding herself living in a series of impossibly expensive New York apartments.
If an episode of one of those many property-porn shows like 'Cribs' or 'Location, Location, Location' were directed by Abel Ferrara and scripted by Sophie Lellouche, it may very well resemble Baumbach's latest exploration of middle-class solipsism. As with Lellouche's awful 'Paris-Manhattan', it tries to evoke the spirit of Woody Allen but it takes more than nicely framed black and white shots of Helvetica Gotham to compete with Allen's wit and insight. Like the work of Ferrara, 'Frances Ha' is populated by a variety of pretentious and elitist New York hipsters, most of whom you would gladly see murdered with a power-drill. They constantly talk about being broke, yet manage to continue living in some of the western world's most expensive postal codes. They claim to be "artists" but no evidence is ever displayed to back up such claims. Most annoyingly, they poke fun at anyone who doesn't fit into their bohemian milieu, refusing to sleep with guys because they don't like their names or because they have a fondness for baseball caps.
Unlike Baumbach's preceding work, 'Greenberg', or his triumph, 'The Squid & the Whale', there's no counterpoint to these nasty pieces of work, no Gerwig to Stiller or Linney to Daniels. We're left to watch a bunch of obnoxious people go unquestioned by either fellow characters or the author himself. Like Whit Stillman or Sofia Coppola, you get the feeling this is the world Baumbach grew up in and he has an affection for the type of irksome snobs most of us go out of our way to avoid. At times 'Frances Ha' comes close to resembling 'Simon Killer' or 'American Psycho', featuring as it does a lead character who can best be described as a sociopath.
Many have compared this film to the HBO show 'Girls', a series I'm unfamiliar with, but it reminded me of another HBO show, the great 'Curb Your Enthusiasm', in the set-up of its comic situations alone. Sequences like Frances' mad dash to find an ATM to pay for a dinner date or a disastrous trip to Paris are straight out of the Larry David playbook but fall flat simply because Baumbach doesn't possess David's comic genius (few do in fairness).
The character of Frances reminded me of several girls I had the misfortune of knowing in my twenties, self-involved to the point that makes me question if they suffer from Asberger Syndrome. I still see these sort of self-entitled idiots every day, annoying their fellow commuters by shouting loudly into their phones on a crowded tram or causing a scene in a bar when they've had too much to drink and their Daddy issues come to the surface. Asking me to empathize with someone like Frances is frankly asking too much.
Gerwig is one of the best actresses working today but somebody needs to kidnap her and get her away from this East Coast indie clique. She's clearly fallen in with the wrong crowd.

Eric Hillis