R (sexual references, strong language); 86 min.
The argument could be made that Frances Ha, the latest from cult director Noah Baumbach ( The Squid and the Whale, Greenberg), is just more hyperliterate, upper- and middle-class New York neuroticism set in a New York City with few black or Hispanic people in it. From Annie Hall and Manhattan through Metropolitan and Lena Dunhams Tiny Furniture and now Girls, its almost a subgenre at this point.
But theres just something so relentlessly likable about put-upon, impoverished Frances (Greta Gerwig, who co-wrote with boyfriend Baumbach) that it almost doesnt matter that her New York is just one big Williamsburg.
Having just broken up with her boyfriend and with a career as a modern dancer going nowhere, Frances last refuge was her friendship with roommate Sophie (Mickey Sumner, Stings daughter). But Sophie is in a relationship with a guy named Patch (Patrick Heusinger) and is thinking about moving in with another friend.
Of course, Frances could easily just go home to her well-off family in Sacramento Youre not poor, one friend chides. Its offensive to actual poor people but its more fun watching her flail as she tries to discover who she is and what she wants.
Shot in black and white and feeling like a cross between Woody Allen and a nod to French New Wave, Frances Ha is often wryly humorous but lacks the emotional punch of Baumbachs best work. Its more of a lark, a love letter to the New York of hipster struggle.
Its not the Big Apple of reality but, as Frances herself might say, I know that. I watch documentaries.
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