Dir. Noah Baumbach, 2013
For all the talk about those durn kids with their unemployment and their black friends, cinematic treatment of millennials has been surprisingly mature, with a light heart and a serious mind. In contrast to the self-congratulatory boomers of The Big Chill and the adult children of Slacker, movies about millennials usually end with the main characters having to face the realities of change and adulthood, a change that is always portrayed as good. Even Superbad reaches this conclusion, and after a decade of arrested development, one gets the feeling that our generation wants nothing more than to grow up.
Enter Frances Ha, the newest film from acclaimed director Noah Baumbach. While Baumbach has been accused of ripping off his mentor Whit Stillman, Stillman was never able to escape the prism of his own young adulthood, while Baumbach managed to take the same character types and situations and adapt them to the present day. In Frances Ha, the titular character (Greta Gerwig), is a professional dancer in New York City who refuses to give up on her dream, even as she loses her job and her best friend moves to Tokyo with her new fiancé. Frances’ stubbornness is painful to watch as she turns down various opportunities and her friends move on with their lives. But eventually she does get the hint.
Filmed in colour but screened in black-and-white, Frances Ha is a beautiful portrait of Brooklyn, the 2010s, and Greta Gerwig (her smile is gorgeous). Baumbach’s reputation as a Brooklyn and New York icon is now clear. This was my favourite film of 2013. And I don’t know if this says more about us or about Hollywood, but giving up on your dream has never been more life-affirming. A