Frances Ha

I’m fuming right now as I must have been sent a dodgy bootleg copy of Frances Ha. It is the only logical explanation as all my dear friends on Letterboxd loved this film but on the version I have the entire cast has been replaced by a bunch of obnoxious shits. I have an incredibly low tolerance for this sort of film. You know the kind, the insufferably hip and quirky comedy that is full of insincere whimsy and characters that dance through the streets of New York.

After loving Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale I have failed to connect with anything else he has directed. This may well be his most annoying film to date starring current partner and indie It girl, Greta Gerwig. Read anything about Gerwig and she sounds like the most exciting and wonderful actress of her generation but I don’t see it. At all. She was enjoyable in Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress but I believe that was because she was deliberately playing an annoying bitch. However, it seems the intention here was to find her arrested development schtick charming and lovely. It’s not.

Gerwig stars as the eponymous Frances, a 27-year old self-absorbed child with an itinerant lifestyle who moves from apartment to apartment. Adrift and directionless she is a standard indie protagonist full of quirky foibles and little purpose. We’ve seen this character a hundred times before in equally irksome indie comedies that are irritatingly smug, just like the characters that populate these loathsome little films.

Referencing Woody Allen and the French New Wave but never as interesting or fresh as either, Frances Ha is instead a self-consciously and cynically constructed movie that seriously wound me up from start to finish (if you couldn’t guess). At least the soundtrack and monochrome cinematography were nice, even if they are also representative of the arch styling that constantly buries the film.

Given the film’s near unanimous praise I suspect some will see this review as deliberately contrarian but the truth is I’m just hardwired to hate these sort of movies. I had hoped Frances Ha would be the exception, so many trusted friends on here seemed to love it and her, but I obviously have a very sensitive gag reflex when it comes to self-absorbed characters in annoyingly quirky dramas.

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