I watched Frances Ha yesterday in Berkeley, in one of those hipster cinemas with incredibly nice black reclining seats, which is fitting for a very hipster indie film (done in black and white with all the hipster clothing and glasses and artsy things, of course). As my close people know, I have issues with hipsterism and the irony of no irony. This is not about hipsters however, but more about how I really liked this movie. So much so that I am writing about it (and I never, ever review movies) and I want to watch it again (and I never, ever watch things by myself). Actually, this is not a movie review. Googling “Frances Ha” will show enough links to that (for example, here is one in the Washington Post and more here and here).
Frances Ha is basically like watching three episodes of Girls back to back. 20-something year old struggling women in the city with a degree they can’t sell and with sexual escapades made totally normal. They have witty lines that are not actually witty but things that we say all the time and the movie/series show us how silly/sad/funny/real “it all is”. They note the spiked nature of these liberal arts too-smart too-naive too-iwanttobedifferent types who have real problems: no money and too much pride to ask the parents, ignoring privileged backgrounds, and trying really hard to be Something.
Frances is a dancer with no apartment in New York who is totally lovable and totally awkward, but not disillusioned (I was squirming during the dinner scene because I just felt so bad for her). She has her quirks and is completely unaware of how she comes off to the normal public, with her franticness, her stresses about making rent, her complete, platonic and real love for her best friend. She reminded me of how much I hate it when someone tells me to not be loud, especially by men.
The dirty secret is that secretly none of this bothers her as much as she thinks it should, and her perpetual discomfort has more to do with the embarrassment of not being as shamelessly ambitious as her peers. Like all of Baumbach’s protagonists, Frances is stuck in a post adolescent twilight, reluctant to move onward and upward, but unlike those other sourpusses, she isn’t bitter; she just is, and when she finally gives herself permission to be weird, and happy and free, then inspiration flows like champagne, just as bubbly as she is.
I was/am/can be frantic and hyper. I have calmed down a lot from before, mainly as a result of being told to do so. At a time when I am supposed to feel more and more like I should be myself, and be a liberated woman owning her agency, in the last few years I have had to “tame” myself to be more proper. It is only with some of my college friends that to this day, I feel the most comfortable making noises, saying inappropriate things, and being, loud. I don’t wish I was like Frances, with her free-spirited, completely unconscious behavior (thus making her “undatable” as repeated in the movie). You wish that you didn’t feel the need to not be like her. I do not believe that women can actually, in reality, be so free-spirited. This is why we watch these shows and movies, to be reminded and only reminded. Entertainment.
Frances Ha also notes the love story of friendships, and the painful feeling of when you lose friends, when that feels like a part of yourself is lost. We undermine the pain of losing friends, since the separation is not a clear cut breakup but just happens. It is simply put, heartbreaking, because you are still connected as a result of not talking about it, and you will do anything to keep that connection, still. You admit that it is a terrible situation but you do not get bogged down on it, and you figure it out..or rather, let this new thing be normal. This might also be one of the meanings of growing up. I would not know. Oddly endearing.
Now, I want a leather jacket and I want to take a whimsical trip to Paris with my new credit card being fully aware that it will put me in debt.