Rated: R for sexual references and language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: May 17, 2013 Released by: IFC Films
What might be considered a slight foray or a meandering folly shot in pristine black and white somehow exudes a fine easygoing charm thanks to the sensitive direction by Noah Baumbach (see his The Squid and the Whale) and titular actress and his writing partner Greta Gerwig (Damsels In Distress). One that even concludes on a higher note than expected.
After Gerwig raised many eyebrows in Baumbach's Greenberg which starred Ben Stiller she's had some downs including Arthur (not so good in the Liza Minnelli role) and Lola Versus. But, after Damsels, the actress in Frances Ha has an odd esprit through a character struggling to mature and enduring many setbacks in the Big Apple where her gawky "undateable" 27-year-old is a dancing apprentice.
Some of the casual fragmentation in a less refined but arguably quotable script as one recalls what Diablo Cody did for Juno parleys a sardonic, self-reflexive wit that seems to go with Gerwig's dry, earthy approach to her role. The most well-rounded side character has to be publisher friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner, daughter of marvelous musician and actor Sting) who ends up getting back together (and heading to Tribeca) with someone she's kept at arm's length. Meanwhile Frances has some notable interludes, especially with the likes of artists/roommates as played, for example, by Adam Driver and Grace Gummer.
Given a rather meager shooting schedule and production, Baumbach has found his ideal muse in a winsome Gerwig that will captivate French New Wave and (relatively early) Woody Allen enthusiasts and has come up with a polished product featuring a soundtrack most compatible to post-collegians. While Frances will traverse to Sacramento for a spell the scenes that have ebullient improvisational flourish to them include a trip to the ATM and back to an alma mater, Vassar. This may not be the auteur's most resonant piece of cinema but it consistently, if episodically has a delightful effervescence.