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Critics reviews
Frances Ha
Noah Baumbach United States, 2012
This combination of arch mannerisms and guileless enthusiasm defines Gerwig’s onscreen presence throughout the film. She has that rare ability to seem both highly attuned to the interpersonal intricacies of the moment and a half-step removed, analyzing her own reactions and responses in a constant state of recalibration.
December 07, 2015
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Frances Ha is a wonderful comedy, above all because it doesn’t depend on the audience finding Frances loveable; it’s like Greenberg, Mr. Baumbach’s previous film, in simultaneously embracing its protagonist and judging her harshly (though it’s much less angry than Greenberg).
February 25, 2014
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Underneath its poignant, stylish gorgeousness (the black-and-white photography mounts a convincing case for directors going digital) is also an unusually frank treatment of how friends drift apart once their ambitions and monetary accomplishments begin to differ.
November 15, 2013
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Frances Ha, like Frances herself, is genial, charming and only occasionally prone to outbursts that might discomfit the viewer. While its New York locations, hipster milieu and sex comedy suggest vintage Woody Allen-ish ambitions, its lack of grounding in the present moment (aside from ubiquitous iPhones) leaves it feeling inconsequential.
July 26, 2013
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…Frances Ha both acknowledges and earns its place in the tradition of the New York bourgeois comedy, encoding the angst of social mores in witty dialogue. Make no mistake: the cinematic slacker has come of age.
July 25, 2013
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The movie is fast, speeding in staccato from one scene to the next with one-liners piling up in a way few American comedies of the past five years have executed… We might say Frances Ha is a new interpretation of the romantic comedy given its pivot from marriage towards friendship as a primary goal (or as a way to define one’s place in the world); we might even say it’s a new genre as much as a new story.
July 18, 2013
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This isn’t a deep film, and the ponderous argot padding it… suggests the friction in the difference between [Gerwig and Baumbach’s] ages (he’s 14 years older). The sense of place (Brooklyn, Paris, Poughkeepsie) and black-and-white photography almost excuse the forced authenticity. This is not the cinematic rock and roll of his cri de divorce, The Squid and the Whale, or the socially apocalyptic smoke signal of Greenberg.
June 19, 2013
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The dialogue and editing are zippy and generally charming, combining with the tart observations of 20-something culture to create a nice frisson. (This may be the least acrid movie Baumbach had ever made, despite its underlying theme that growing up means learning to accept chronic disappointment.) Yet most of the energizing formal ideas are taken from other movies; the creative nadir may be when Baumbach uses Georges Delerue’s iconic theme from Jules and Jim as a shortcut to pathos.
May 23, 2013
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Gerwig, maybe, has freed something in [Baumbach]. Shot digitally on the fly, its New York streets rendered in satiny black-and-white, Frances Ha is a patchwork of details that constitute a sort of dating manual—not one that tells you how to meet hot guys, but one that fortifies you against all the crap you have to deal with as a young person in love with a city that doesn’t always love you back.
May 17, 2013
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The personality, though, is equal parts its star and director. Gerwig has a loopy, vaguely medicated charm where she blurts out embarrassing admissions, as though she wasn’t even trying to stop them. Baumbach is a wit with a gift for sharp, self-aware one-liners. The dialogue leans more towards Gerwig, but the film has the tight shape of its director’s films (“Kicking and Screaming,” “The Squid and the Whale”).
May 16, 2013
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…“Frances Ha” is the most purely enjoyable and sweet-tempered movie the exceptionally talented Baumbach has made his nearly two decades as a director… its lack of abrasive surfaces of any sorts is something that’s new to Baumbach’s body of work…
May 16, 2013
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An unabashed star showcase, Frances Ha is at times too satisfied with itself, and eventually the heroine’s trajectory succumbs to a lazy, get-your-shit-together montage (Frances makes up with Sophie! Frances choreographs her own dance routine! Frances has her own place!) that’s right out of a Judd Apatow film… But when Gerwig faces the camera, her merriness and anxiety perpetually mingling, the enchantment is sustained.
May 16, 2013
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Baumbach captures the current young-NYC-boho milieu with an exactitude that’s almost anthropological and a lyricism that’s both droll and engaging… Ultimately it’s tempting to file “Frances Ha” under “pretty good, but could be a lot better if it tried.” In that sense, it provides an unfortunate correlative for the continuing career trajectory of Baumbach, a perennial underachiever.
May 16, 2013
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Above all, Frances Ha is a wry and moving portrait of friendship, highlighting the way that two people who know everything about each other can nevertheless grow apart as their needs change. The dynamic between Gerwig and Sumner (terrific in a tonally tricky role) becomes almost unbearably poignant in a late scene between the two at Vassar.
May 16, 2013
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The filmmaking isn’t wholly comfortable with itself. Baumbach is taking a leap here into something freer, but his shooting style—in undistinguished b&w—feels like part of an old affectation he couldn’t drop (yes, we all know you dig Manhattan). His empathy for Gerwig is real, not cynical, and she’s no fantasy dream girl. Yet some of the director’s usual acuity has been sacrificed for looseness and, for all of Gerwig’s energy, there’s not much forward momentum here…
May 14, 2013
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With her exquisitely touching spontaneity and the spin of verbal and gestural invention with which she inflects the slightest interaction—and despite her embarrassingly impulsive self-revelations and equally awkward deceptions—Frances is an artist whose medium is life itself, and Baumbach, his camera open with calm adoration, channels her waves of wonder and possibility.
May 13, 2013
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Shooting in black and white, and cowriting with Gerwig, Baumbach achieves his best sort of cultural portraiture, with quotably apt lines that capture whole characters and social habits in semisatiricial miniature. Gerwig gives Frances an apologetic physical presence as she gropes her way emotionally through the predicaments she has been loathe to abandon.
May 08, 2013
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The film’s nods to Truffaut and Carax have been amply commented on, but these are not as preponderant as has been made out, and scenes such as Frances’ ill-starred trip to Paris allow the film to stand as an assured work in its own right.
March 17, 2013
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It’s not as disciplined as Greenberg, nor does it really intend to be, but Frances finds Baumbach as an assured stylist and storyteller behind the camera—and in the great Gerta Gerwig he has found himself a creative force that merges rather beautifully with his own.
February 11, 2013
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The moment I cite above is merely one grace note in a dense, confident, superabundantly inventive film that is powered by dialogue and performance. While it is very much of its place and time in a closely observed, fine-grained fashion, Frances Ha is also a cinephilic love letter to the Nouvelle Vague in its black-and-white photography, its focus on young people and their cultural environment, and its use of pop music.
December 01, 2012
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While De Palma’s black comedy re-phrases Godard’s “To live in society today is like living in one enormous comic-strip” to a contemporary “To live in society today is like living in a digital hall-of-mirrors”, Frances Ha is blown along by the French New Wave’s gentler spirits.
October 01, 2012
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His facility for poignant cringe comedy is in full effect, as is Gerwig’s screwball timing (she’s quickly becoming the closest thing we have to a contemporary Jean Arthur), while Sam Levy’s gorgeous b&w cinematography does for Brooklyn what Manhattan once did for Manhattan. We’ve seen way too many tales of twentysomething malaise in the past ten years; Baumbach & Co. make it seem as fresh as a spring morning on Smith Street.
September 28, 2012
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Maybe the film—which ruptures any semblance of pointed realism with its decidedly unreal, incredibly beautiful black-and-white photography—is ultimately disinterested in wrestling its viewer into an empathetic rapport with Gerwig’s pixie-ish bonehead. Maybe we identify not because we are Frances, but, quite simply, because we like her.
September 17, 2012
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The quick-and-dirty production—under 90 minutes, B&W, minimal trappings—gives the film a wonderful verve and Gerwig’s habit of babbling herself into a corner has never been better exploited. It takes some narrative shortcutting to get to the ending, but otherwise Frances Ha is a perfectly scaled pleasure.
September 09, 2012
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Credit Gerwig or not, but there’s little arguing that the film is a renewal of Baumbach’s spark and sharp wit, with his unmatched sense of awkwardly syncopated comedic rhythm enforced and enhanced by Gerwig’s equally awkward, endearingly loopy delivery in the title role.
September 09, 2012
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Frighteningly faithful to a cultural generation for whom sincerity is for suckers, mail comes by phone, and politics are for documentaries, Frances Ha appears as fashionably distracted as its characters, but, much like the core of France’s shambolic, vulnerable personality, there is grace in spades. It plays like a pop record you want to play over and over: imagine Paul McCartney jamming with George Delerue in a Brooklyn basement. This is tits. Ha.
September 01, 2012
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Baumbach’s film has as much in common, in its look and feel, with Andrew Bujalski’s cinema as it does with Baumbach’s own early efforts, Kicking and Screaming and Mr. Jealousy. However, Baumbach’s stroke of genius is to take mumblecore and speed it up. Why didn’t anyone think of this before? Frances Ha is paced almost as if it were a screwball comedy, with its drifty, shambling dialogue delivered at an accelerated rate and punched up with a jaunty montage tempo.
September 01, 2012
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