Frances Ha ★★½

Noah Baumbach's "Frances Ha" is a character-driven, light-toned drama that crosses mumblecore sensibilities with Woody Allen-esque overtones. Led by Greta Gerwig, the dramedy focuses on Frances and her cadre of friends, family, and acquaintances as she tries to find her place in the world. Try as she might, finding her place is a little harder than anticipated.

Baumbach films his story in black and white, allowing his characters, especially Frances, to provide the story its color. To be sure, the characters and performances are the film's highlight; but they are all so low-key that "Frances Ha" rarely produces any real energy other than some minimal-wattage moments generated from Frances's foibles. Performances are pleasant and realistic, and the plot is driven the recognizable, anxiety-inducing, and dubiously interesting ups and downs faced by every late 20-something.

While "Frances Ha" has earned its share of fans, the film is bound to leave segments of the audience cold. The film is a nicely assembled and smartly observant slice of life, but that slice of life offers only small amounts of cinematic excitement.

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