Mickey Summer and Greta Gerwig in “Frances HA”
What I love about summer is we get to see all of those long-awaited blockbusters such as Fast & Furious 6 or Iron Man 3, but we also get to see these diamond-in-the-rough independent films which prove time-and-time-again to be better than blockbusters in many ways. They are cheaper to produce and generally easier to film as well, not to mention a well-rounded story that blockbusters like Iron man 3 tend to lack or just flat out disappoint its audience. Granted, many of these Independent films wind up on DVD and can be found in Red boxes everywhere across the country, but when one is in the local movie theatre its probably something that should be seen. Frances HA is certainly something that shouldn’t be missed or forgotten about like most of these films typically are. Frances HA is tale of self-discovery as much as it is a tale about how people come and go in an ordinary person’s life.
Frances (Greta Gerwig) just broke up with her boyfriend Dan (Michael Esper) and was just told that she couldn’t teach Ballroom dancing anymore as well, which is her lifelong dream, to dance for an audience. So un-employed and with no where to go in the big apple Frances moves in with her BFF Sophie (Mickey Summer) the two hit it off and become more than just friends. Then one day out of the blue Sophie decides she wants to move to Tribeca, but Frances can’t afford even with the rent divided between the two. So Frances is once again without place to live, but one day meets Benji (Michael Zegen) and Lev (Adam Driver) friends of Sophie’s that quickly become friends with Frances as well. Frances does indeed wind up on Benji’s and Lev’s couch as well, but also realize that she and Benji have more in common that just Sophie as a friend.
What follows is a series of run-ins with other friends from the past and with more recent friends as well. Thus, painting people coming and going throughout Frances’s life, which is all too similar to how things actually play out in “reality”.
Frances Ha in many ways brings up a lot of questions to be answered in its brief ninety-six minute running time, but it slowly and surely answers these questions. It is also without question a character study about a quirky girl that appears to be running nowhere with no goal in mind, however this isn’t the case. There is a change in character at the end of the film and how minor it is actually one of the closest things to “real life” I’ve ever seen in a movie. Which the films ties with “real life” makes it all the more worth watching because Hitchcock himself has said that “movies are real life with all the boring parts cut out”(Sabrina, Jeffries “The Movie Eye: using film techniques to enhance your own fiction”).
Frances HA is also written by its Star Greta Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach and is reminiscent of Gerwig’s last movie Lola Vs. also featuring a quirky girl looking to find her Silver Lining.
To top it all off Francis Ha is shot entirely on DSLR’s, which makes it the second movie in a two-year stretch to have been shot and edited on this workflow. The other being Act of Valor, which suffered from some major motion, blur. Francis HA on the other hand was entirely shot black and white, which not only gave it the upper had and made it easier to shoot for lighting purposes, but also a much simpler story to tell as well. Granted, shooting with DSLRs is still a new way of doing things in Hollywood, but if they look anything like Francis HA it will soon be the new Fad for filmmakers.
Technical Jargon aside, if Frances HA is playing near you I’d check it out; it’s something that doesn’t come around often and represents a part of film history that is long since dead.
Sabrina, Jeffries “The movie Eye: using film techniques to enhance your own fiction”