(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: There is not a lot of plot to this account of a dancer in her late twenties looking to better her existence by being connected to professional dancing and find an appropriate place to live and someone to live with. This is very minimalist storytelling much of which feels improvised in front of the camera. The film is more of a character situation than a character story. Greta Gerwig stars and co-writes with director Noah Baumbach. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10

What can you say about a film in which the warmest and most enjoyable sequences are those scored with Georges Delarue's music for KING OF HEARTS? I don't remember what was happening at the time, but the music was better than the story.

Greta Gerwig plays Frances, who is entering her late twenties and for the first time is finding out that her dreams of being a great innovative artistic dancer just are not going to happen the way she had planned. The rubber is just starting to meet the road. For the first time, she does not get a part in a show she wants. Her lifelong best friend and occasional lover Sophie (played by Mickey Sumner) is going to move out of the apartment they share and is going to live with a boyfriend. Until now Sophie was someone she could run through the Manhattan streets with and could urinate on subway tracks with. (Charming.) Now all the cotter pins that held Frances's life together are being pulled out and the life is falling apart.

Frances is looking for financial stability and a chance to use her skills as a professional dancer. The model for the film seems to be Woody Allen's MANHATTAN. Like MANHATTAN the film is shot in monochrome. The plot is not strong, but the dialog seems to be the film's focus. Instead of a cute Woody Allen we have Gerwig whose charm is present more in theory than in actual fact. The character is in her late twenties and her personality is mostly likable but verges on the obnoxious and has perhaps intentionally just an edge of desperation. Certainly her cuteness seems a little strained when it is so often tracking shots of Gerwig running on the street.

Director Noah Baumbach (THE SQUID AND THE WHALE) says he tries to tell a big chunk of the story with each scene, but that is not that useful if overall the story does not progress. Too many of her gags end with the viewer asking what was the point of that scene. In one sequence Frances is taking a male friend to dinner and when she goes to pay, the card is rejected. She leaves her friend at the table and runs out to find an ATM machine. It is hard to find so we have a lot of Gerwig's trademark running through streets. This causes her to fall down, and when she returns to the restaurant she finds she is slightly bleeding. So she takes care of her injury. I was first saying to myself "And ...?" When we move on to the next sequence and this one does not seem to impact anything I now am left asking "So ...?" The idea seems to be that we are so entranced by Gerwig that we want to know everything that happens to her. Perhaps it need not come together for the Tweet generation. We are expected to just be enough entranced by Gerwig's physical and floppy graceful style that that is sufficient. I rate FRANCES HA a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.

Film Credits: combined

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					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2013 Mark R. Leeper