“Tell me the story about us”, demands a bored and weary Frances, somehow feeling the statement might rejuvenate her faith in life and the times to come.
“Again?”, asks an exasperated Sofia, but then with the grim seriousness of a storyteller, folds her hand and sits upright, just because she loved doing this every goddamn time, and says, “Okay Frances,
“We’re going to take over the world some day…”
“Frances is childish”, “Frances is immature”, “Frances is a dreamer”, “Frances is a loudmouth”, “Frances needs to get her shit together”, “Frances is awkward”, “Frances needs to grow up”, “Frances is disoriented”, “Frances is directionless”, “Frances is ‘undateable'”
“I fell in love with Frances….”
First world misery looks best in black and white.
A weird decision by the director, Noah Baumbach, to depict a coming-of-age (well, not exactly), lively and heartening film based in the colourful city of New York (literally and metaphorically) in grim shades of Black and white. At times the B&W does give it a hint of cynicism, even in the most liveliest of situations, but on the plus side, what it really does is make you feel a sore heartache in even the most recurring and common miseries of films and story-telling. The first-world problems.
When looked from a greater perspective, a perspective that all intellectuals would visualise the world around them in, all our first world problems seem so superficial. You’ve got trouble at your job, relationship is sore, grades don’t work out well, friendships have broken. All of these problems, are only but problems. They’re not situations. “Oh you and your dad don’t get along? Such a serious issue. The starving kids of Africa might be devastated to hear that!”
But what if all your first world miseries bundle up to such an extent in front of you, that it may feel as if the whole universe is conspiring against you? And even though our problems are only but petty, pretentious whinings against bigger issues like world hunger or women empowerment, they too are, in the end, our own. And like everything else which is our own, we feel for it and would consider it as a priority. And this is something that relates to everybody around us, which is what books like ‘Catcher in the rye’ show us, that our individual feelings of alienation, of misery, of loneliness, are some things that are universal.
And the thing is, we, like all individuals against the forces of nature, bend against it. We let go of our dreams and accept the grim reality of the situation. People term this phase as growing up. Becoming mature. But what about the people who refuse to let go of their dreams? People who refuse to accept the reality of the situation and are still those starry eyed dreamers who believe that somehow everything would work itself out in the end and that ‘This too shall pass…”
Meet Frances (Greta Gerwig), the 27 year old girl (not so much of a grown up) who lives with her college ‘bestie’/ sistuh from another mistuh, Sofie (Mickey Sumner). What does she do for a living you ask? Well, Frances dances. Is she really good at that? Umm.. well she’s strictly average. I mean she does work as an apprentice here and there and would do random gigs thrown her way, like teaching kids and stuff, but I think that counts. Is it a good paying job? Yeah, right! She’s an artist in New York. What do you expect? So does she plan to get married then? No sir whatsoever! Well what does she want to do then?
Frances, well, just wants to live in the moment. She believes in a good life. A life where dreams do come true. Where she’d probably move to Paris with Sofie and she’d be a professional dancer there. Where they’ll have lovers and a studio apartment and no kids and a friendship that would last for a lifetime.
Well, atleast that was the plan.
Why, what happened then?
Life happened, my friend.
You know, Sofie moved out and then Frances lost her job and then stayed with these guys Benjie (Michael Zegan) and Lev (Adam Driver) and then Sofie got married and then Frances moved out again and then she stayed with another friend and worked odd jobs. Oh, it’s a long story. You’d probably have to watch the film for that.
It’d be an wild understatement to say Greta Gerwig played the character well. She went inside the bloody skin of it. She was the right kind of awkward and the right kind of cute and the right kind of miserable and the righ- well, basically the right kind of everything.
Frances relates to every individual in the world who still believe in their artistic dreams and carry them around like a baggage. She’s you. She’s me. She’s all of us until life gets to us. Until we become the boring married couple with their occasional foreign trips. Or the guy with a day job. Or the girl who does paperwork but wanted to become a writer instead.
But Frances, no, Frances, is different. She’ll speak her mind even if it that’d lead to a break up with her boyfriend. She’s that friend who’d shout out “Ahoy sexy!” in front of the whole crowd and run over and hug you. She believes in friendships and relationships that would last forever. She believes dreams that may someday come true. She dances freely. Listens intently. Cries silently. And loves truly.
And when the chips are down, she’d even risk being the only 27 year old loudmouth with nothing relatable to say in a table full of hollow, civilized, married couples. Or would make an impulsive, disaster of a trip to Paris just for the sake of doing so.
And the world, sad to say, is a cruel, cruel place for somebody like Frances. There’s ‘fate’, who’s a bitch! Time, that changes. And people, who change with it. It’s like Ed Sheeran would say, “It’s too cold outside, for angels to fly…..”
Frances Ha is a nostalgic, meaningful tale about a character that we could relate to. That we could somehow acknowledge in ourselves. That was a part of us, but somehow who got lost on the way. Whatever happened to that guy? The guy who made the most randomest of rash decisions and would regret them later on. But if you ask him about it now, he wouldn’t trade the world for making them. Did he change? Or did he just grew up? If there was something you would take from this film, make it the impulsiveness and the madness about life and your dreams that you lost. Become, again, the starry eyed person who believes that the world around him would change, and that all of life’s miseries are just a phase. And like every other phase, ‘this too shall pass…’ (Unless, ofcourse if the door is guarded by Gandalf. In that case, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PASS!'(cheesy joke, I know. Had to do that, sorry 😛 ))
Throughout the entirety of the film, you do not realize the significance of it’s title, and when you do it comes with the bittersweet realisation of the reality around you. Of accepting. Of moving on (in a way). It’s about making peace with the city you love that does not love you back. And in the end we just ‘accept the love we think we deserve…’