Did you ever wonder what Annie Hall might be like if the main protagonist was Annie and not Alvy Singer?
You have your answer, in a way, in Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha. And I have a bit of bad news for you: The film would be a lot less delightful.
If you don’t know, Greta Gerwig, who plays the titular character, is truly the Diane Keaton to Baumbach’s Allen. (They are even apparently dating in real life.) He loves her—his camera loves her. He’s completely besotted with her fumbling, awkward, faux-näif adorableness. It was Baumbach who first introduced the mainstream to Gerwig, previously a darling of the mumblecore movement, in his Greenberg. I liked her in that movie, even considered her a star in the making. Since then, I’ve grown less enamored.
It’s not that I don’t think she has a certain charm—or a certain natural ability as an actress—it’s just that I find the whole “look at this adorable, broken fawn of a girl, always adorably blurting out the wrong thing and being adorably clumsy yet paradoxically, bewitchingly graceful” thing a bit tiresome.
Now if you do find Gerwig as bewitching as Baumbach does (and many do), Frances Ha will be the film for you.
Because Frances Ha is basically all about the adorableness of Gerwig. Seriously, that’s the film’s subject.
I mean, ostensibly, it’s a film about how hard it is for a young person to find their way in Manhattan, especially if they aspire to be an artist. (In that sense, it’s Slaves of New York for the Twitter generation.) It’s also, ostensibly about a close friendship between two women—it’s a love story, really—but Baumbach loses interest in the other friend (she’s simply not Gerwig-y enough, I suppose) and the final moments of the film, meant to give us a satisfying sense of closure on their friendship, ring hollow.
I’ve loved a lot of Baumbach’s work, especially his brilliantly mordant The Squid and Whale. And while I certainly appreciated certain aspects of the film—its lightning-fast montage editing style in particular—it really didn’t work for me. Oh well. As Annie might say: La-de-da.