2012 Certificate: 15


Indie darling Greta Gerwig takes centre stage as a carefree apprentice dancer who's forced to reassess her life in New York when her best friend and flatmate decides to move on. Despite her best efforts to keep responsibility at bay, Frances discovers there's simply no escape from growing up. The characters provide the colour in this upbeat, offbeat, black-and-white doodle co-written by Gerwig and her real-life partner and director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale).


  • Noah Baumbach


  • Greta Gerwig

  • Mickey Sumner

  • Adam Driver

  • Michael Zegen

  • Patrick Heusinger


Effectively bringing the sensibility of Sixties French cinema to the iPhone generation, Frances Ha wears its nouvelle vagueness on its black-and-white sleeve.

One of those urbane but not particularly funny comedies that has them nodding appreciatively over their organic lattes on London's South Bank while filling multiplexes with tumbleweed, it relies rather too heavily on the puppyish charms of star and co-writer Greta Gerwig.

But while she cements her untouchability as the it-girl of indie cinema and it looks, as Frances herself might say, "supercool", it's considerably more resistible than it thinks it is.

Greta Gerwig plays the titular twenty-something who harbours notions of becoming a professional dancer and choreographer but spends most of her time gadding gaily around New York with her bookish BFF Sophie (Mickey 'daughter of Sting' Sumner).

So after putting her female soulmate before her boyfriend, Frances is stunned when Sophie announces she is moving in with her own chap.

Her life has reached a turning point. But, as an impulsive and somewhat self-involved hedonist whose biggest dilemma is deciding whether to pay the charge at an ATM, it takes Frances longer than most to face up to life as a proper adult.

The film follows her journey as she strives to maintain her bohemian lifestyle despite the pressures of work, affordable accommodation and the annoying maturity of her peers.

Cineastes will find much to savour, from the Woody Allen-esque structure and mood to the French New Wave beats that see Frances running giddily down New York streets and smoking sophisticatedly out of apartment windows.

But despite Gerwig's natural appeal and talent as a performer, Frances' self-absorption and flakiness begin to grate.

And with little comic back-up from the surrounding characters - whether scripted or improvised - this is less LOL than oh-OK. Compilers of memorable movie quotes won't need a spare pen.

A pleasant enough mood piece but in terms of comedy and drama it rarely rises above background noise.