Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Frances Ha - a film review

All I could think of - throughout the many exalted scenes during this gem of a movie - was my sense of exhilaration.  I thought about this feeling.  This feeling made me think.  Both my senses and intellect were touched.  Few films build the bridge between both realms.  Frances Ha is such a film.  A rare and true one.  

As much as Frances floundered and no matter how pathetic her circumstance, one is drawn to her self-indulgent suffering for one reason:  because of her innocence.  She has no sense of the tragic to paralyze her.  She moves with love.  The love for her best friend being her anchor - the purest of loves.  Your best friend is not a lover or family; it is unencumbered by the messiness of sex and obligation.  Adulthood changes all this.  The purity of this love slowly withers, as the future ensnares and haunts us.  We often compromise around Frances's age.  We lose our innocence.   

27.  At an age when most start to think about their future and compromise on their dreams, she refused.  You can't fault Frances.  She may be arrested in her development; unable to graduate into adulthood.  But we all know what follows is a sham.  We atomize into our nuclear units; strengthening our domestic and professional concerns, but it doesn't make us any happier.  For many, we look back in wonder and yearn for what was lost.  

This is not a nostalgic film.  It does not make romance of what are also aimless and boring years.  There is not much that is glamorous about her suffering:  sexless, little money, no true friendships, little social connection.  All horrid.  And when the going gets worse, she regresses back to college - that idyllic time frozen in the American imagination.          

Besides all the wonderful ideas of youth, friendship and the growing pains of doing all this in New York, this is not what makes this film great.  It is the style and technique that will be talked about for years to come.  Some, especially those well versed in the French New Wave, will say the technique is derivative.  Derivations rarely have such wonder to them.  And some scenes, one in particular, of a running Frances to Bowie music, just took my breathe away.  I couldn't help yelping in delight at many other instances.  Truffaut never did that to me.           

Finally, an age old question:  Why does New York render so beautifully in black and white?  This film would still be good in color, though its faux analog nature, makes it shine greatly.  Perhaps New York's overwhelming greatness needs a minimalist filter; in order not to blind us.  Much in the same way you can never directly look at the sun.  You need some sunglasses.  Frances Ha are the perfect pair.

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