The summer movie season heats up with two great performances in two very solid indies. Greta Gerwig in ‘Frances Ha’ and Matthew McConaughey in “Mud’. Finally, something to cheer about in a summer movie season lacking in ambitious thought.
In Noah Baumbach’s ‘Frances Ha” Greta Gerwig gives a performance that will surely be remembered by critics at years end. She’s so damn good as Frances, a 27 year old yuppie New York girl looking to find herself and refusing to let go of her dream as a professional dancer. This is a far cry from the “Sex And The City” females and more like the ones portrayed in Lena Dunham’s brilliant HBO series “Girls”. In fact, comparisons will be made just by the casting of “Girls” regular Adam Driver. It’s more than just that. Just like Dunham’s show, Frances Ha is the about the coming of age of women that have a hard time embarking in adulthood and just like that series’ best episodes there is an episodic uncomfortableness to Frances’ every day situations. At times you just cringe at the situations she puts herself in.
Gerwig -with her long wavy blonde hair and a clumsy posture- is spectacular in more ways than one. She brings realness to a character that could have easily delved deep into caricature. It doesn’t happen here. Instead Baumbach, in his best film since “The Squid And The Whale”, launches the career of a new star. Gerwig’s gestures, movements, facial expressions are spot on and make you fall for Frances – flaws and all. Her life is a confusing mess, while her best friend/roommate finds love and moves out. She is down on cash, single, awkward and in search of herself. She acts younger than her age, takes things one day at a time and doesn’t think much about the future. At some point living this way catches up to you. It caught up to me in my life and it caught up to many other late twenty somethings that I knew of. Baumbach’s character study doesn’t cozy up to any conventions. He speaks the truth for my generation and creates a sort of wake up call. Shot in beautiful black and white he proves that “The Squid And The Whale” was no fluke. With all that being said “Frances Ha” is the Greta Gerwig show, Oscar pay attention.