Frances Ha is a 2012 American black and white comedy-drama film, directed by Noah Baumbach and written by Baumbach and Greta Gerwig. Gerwig also plays the title role. The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on September 1, 2012, and began a limited release on May 17, 2013. It was released by IFC Films.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Noah Baumbach|
|Edited by||Jennifer Lame|
|Distributed by||IFC Films|
|Box office||$11.3 million|
Frances Halladay is a 27-year-old dancer whose life is upended when her best friend Sophie tells her she plans to relocate from Brooklyn to Tribeca, which Sophie considers her dream neighborhood. Frances, a struggling would-be dancer working as an apprentice at a dance company, is unable to afford the move and is forced to find someplace else to live. She moves to Chinatown and shares an apartment with her friends Lev and Benji for a brief period. She visits her hometown of Sacramento for Christmas where she sees her family and reconnects with high school friends. She spends an uneventful two days in Paris that she pays for on a credit card. She returns to Vassar, her alma mater, to work as a waitress and summer resident assistant, before finally returning to Washington Heights in Manhattan. Frances laments her dire financial situation, her poor prospects as a professional dancer, and her increasingly strained relationship with Sophie. She eventually reconciles with Sophie and enjoys a modest but satisfying existence as a fledgling choreographer, teaching dance to young children, and bookkeeper for her former dance company, exploring a potential relationship with Benji, and living alone in her own apartment.
- Greta Gerwig as Frances Halladay
- Mickey Sumner as Sophie Levee
- Charlotte d'Amboise as Colleen
- Adam Driver as Lev Shapiro
- Michael Zegen as Benji
- Michael Esper as Dan
- Grace Gummer as Rachel
- Patrick Heusinger as Reade "Patch" Krause
- Josh Hamilton as Andy
- Maya Kazan as Caroline
- Justine Lupe as Nessa
- Britta Phillips as Nadia
- Juliet Rylance as Janelle
- Dean Wareham as Spencer
Frances Ha is directed by Noah Baumbach and written by Baumbach and Greta Gerwig. Gerwig, who also stars in the film, announced it in April 2012, though Baumbach's involvement was not revealed until the film's listing in the Telluride Film Festival's lineup. Gerwig had starred in Baumbach's 2010 film Greenberg, and they decided to collaborate again. They exchanged ideas, developed characters, and eventually co-wrote the script. Gerwig has stated that she did not anticipate starring in the film as well, but Baumbach thought she suited the part. Filming locations included New York City, Sacramento, Paris, and Vassar College, which is Baumbach's alma mater.
The filmmakers included a number of pop songs in the film, including "Every 1's a Winner" by Hot Chocolate; "Blue Sway" by Paul McCartney; "Chrome Sitar" by T.Rex, and "Modern Love" by David Bowie. "Modern Love" is featured in a scene in Frances Ha that is a remake of a sequence in Leos Carax's Mauvais Sang, where Denis Lavant runs through the streets.
The soundtrack includes a song by Felix Laband and references multiple French films; it contains music by Georges Delerue, Jean Constantin and Antoine Duhamel, who originally wrote for films of the French New Wave.
Frances Ha premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on September 1, 2012. The Los Angeles Times said "audiences seemed pleasantly surprised by the warmth from the often-mordant Baumbach." The film also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2012, after which IFC Films acquired North- and Latin-American rights to distribute the film in theaters. Frances Ha also screened at the New York Film Festival on September 30, 2012, and at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June 2013.
Frances Ha has been met with critical acclaim. Based on 167 reviews collected by review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 92% approval rating, with an average score of 7.8/10. The website's critical consensus is: "Audiences will need to tolerate a certain amount of narrative drift, but thanks to sensitive direction from Noah Baumbach and an endearing performance from Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha makes it easy to forgive." Metacritic calculated an average score of 82 out of 100 based on 35 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".
Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice praised Gerwig's performance, writing, "It's a relief that Frances Ha isn't as assertively frank, in the 'Look, ma, no shame!' way, as Girls. And this is partly Gerwig's vision, too. No other movie has allowed her to display her colors like this. Frances is a little dizzy and frequently maddening, but Gerwig is precise in delineating the character's loopiness: Her lines always hit just behind the beat, like a jazz drummer who pretends to flub yet knows exactly what's up."
Peter Debruge, reviewing for Variety, described Frances Ha, "This modest monochromatic lark doesn't present a story—or even a traditional sequence of scenes—so much as it offers spirited glimpses into the never-predictable life of Frances, a 27-year-old dancer." He said Frances was "a character whose unexceptional concerns and everyday foibles prove as compelling as any New York-set concept picture, delivering an affectionate, stylishly black-and-white portrait of a still-unfledged Gotham gal".
The Los Angeles Times highlighted Gerwig's foray as part of a trend of female actors becoming writers or co-writers; other examples include Zoe Kazan with Ruby Sparks and Rashida Jones with Celeste and Jesse Forever. Baumbach filmed Frances Ha with his cinematographer Sam Levy digitally and in black-and-white, the latter to emulate in part collaborations by Woody Allen and his cinematographer Gordon Willis, in films like Manhattan (1979). CBS News compared Frances Ha's style to the works of Woody Allen, Jim Jarmusch and François Truffaut.
|Bodil Awards||Best American Film||Nominated|
|British Independent Film Awards||Best International Independent Film||Nominated|
|Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards||Best Actress in a Comedy||Nominated|
|Casting Society of America||Casting - Low Budget Feature - Drama/Comedy||Nominated|
|Central Ohio Film Critics Association||Best Picture||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical||Nominated|
|Independent Spirit Awards||Best Feature||Nominated|
|London Film Critics Circle Film Awards||Film of the Year||Nominated|
|Actress of the Year||Nominated|
|Technical Achievement of the Year||Nominated|
|Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival||Audience Award||3rd place|
|Toronto Film Critics Association Awards||Best Actress||2nd Runner-up|
|Vancouver Film Critics Circle||Best Actress||Nominated|
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With this foray into screenwriting, Gerwig, 29, has become part of a current wave of actresses writing or co-writing their own material, a group that includes Zoe Kazan ("Ruby Sparks") and Rashida Jones ("Celeste and Jesse Forever").
- Morgan, David (September 30, 2012). "N.Y. Film Festival: Noah Baumbach's whimsical 'Frances Ha'". CBS News.
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