Frances Ha ★★★★

Frances Ha is a cute movie. It made me feel things. Things that were about the characters, sure, but more things that the characters showed me about me. The sense of bittersweet regret and confusion about adulthood that has a large portion of Millennials floundering in life even now is perfectly highlighted here. It's uncomfortable and awkward and, I'd guess for most people who are not of the Millennial generation (god, how I hate that term), this movie will annoy more than endear.

Frances is 27 and doing pretty good. She works as a dancer (albeit as an alternate, but details, details), has a roommate she's best friends with, and generally living the New York City art scene dream--which is to say she's not starving, and not working a 9-5. But things start crumbling--she breaks up with her boyfriend, her roommate moves out, and money gets really tight.

Frances Ha is a story of navigation as Frances attempts to deal with the blows that life lands. It's a movie that is self-aware--in one scene Frances calls herself "poor" and one of the guys she's living with says, "You're not poor. Calling yourself poor is a disservice to actual poor people." It's an interesting scene because they're both right. Objectively Frances has little-to-no money; she doesn't know where rent money is coming from, etc. That's a dictionary definition right there. We can call her poor and not bat an eye. Yet her roommate has a point, too: Frances comes from a place where she can afford to barely scrape by--worst case scenario she fails and moves home with mom & dad. (This possibility is never actually suggested in the narrative, but while her parents aren't helping her financially, they're well enough off that they COULD toss emergency cash her direction or let her stay with them--it's a safety net that many people that don't have money lack.)

The narrative has something of a weird flow to it. It starts off relatively normal--a timeline that advances at a pace you expect. But as things change in Frances's life, the timeline starts skipping forward unexpectedly. And I think what's happening is normal transition-type scenes have been eliminated from the script. To use an early example from the film: We see Frances's best friend tell her that she's moving, then we see a scene of Frances finding out that a new friend has a room opening in a month, then we see Frances in the middle of being roommates with this guy. Bam, bam, bam. Typical "scene of the move" followed by "scene of being newly roommates" were just completely ignored. And that's kind of cool. But as the film gains momentum, these transition-type scenes become more obvious in their absence as the story relentlessly bypasses traditional A to B to C narrative construction.

It mostly works, and it's rather refreshing. I don't know that I'd recommend it in most cases, but it's still cool to see unfold.

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