One of my personal favorite films of last year was the criminally under seen indie charmer “Frances Ha.” This film from Noah Baumbach was co-written by the film’s star, Gretta Gerwig. Here, Baumbach and Gerwig prove that their collaborations are something to look forward to, as in both “Greenberg” and this film, they show that they know how to make a movie.


(Related: Film Director Profile: Noah Baumbach)


Gerwig is the titular Frances, an aimless 20-something trying to make it as a dancer in New York City, N.Y. With no real plot to be found, “Frances Ha” is a slice-of-life piece in which we see Frances’s attempts at love, her relationship with her best friend, her struggling professional life, and just about everything in between. There are very few frames of this picture where Frances is not present, and by the end it feels as if we know her as our friend.


What the success of the film comes down to is the wonderful script and Gerwig’s performance. There are lines of dialogue delivered that had me laughing much harder than I usually do at these kinds of movies. This film could have gotten by with the concept and character alone, but Baumbach and Gerwig manage to make “Frances Ha” genuinely funny. The humor is equal parts writing and performance. While I am sure this reads well on the page, it just could not be the same without Gerwig delivering  the lines. As Frances, she truly is sublime.


“Frances Ha” is also the rare indie that looks incredibly beautiful. Baumbach does not just use black-and-white for the sake of doing so, he understands that the saying, “to Hell with color,” stylizes and romanticizes a picture, if done correctly. His compositions are sharp, the result of making movies for 19 years, but they did not need to be. He could have put anything on screen, and it would have looked pretty on palette alone.


Really, though, what is so charming about “Frances Ha” is nearly undefinable. It has the handmade, unrefined quality of a really good first feature that allows an audience to latch on to it and go along for the ride, despite whatever flaws they may see. I understand that “handmade” and “unrefined” are not qualities you typically look for or find in your standard Hollywood-produced picture, but that is what makes the roughness of “Frances Ha” so enticing. You get a real sense of the artist’s work behind this film, which is something you almost never see in movies today.


Either you’re gonna love this movie or hate it. If you don’t like black and white, you are going to hate it. If you cannot get on board with Gerwig’s performance, as is the case for some, you are going to hate it — nut if you give this film a chance, if you can allow yourself into this world, there is no way you will not love this film.- 4/4


Have you seen “Frances Ha?” Let’s talk in the comments below, or find me on Twitter @TuckerPoikonen