Minicine at the Mills – Jan 2014 // FRANCES HA – Preview

One day we’re announcing tickets for this evening’s screening of Frances Ha (2012) going on sale, the next we’re announcing the event is sold out. Okay, it was more like four days but still, we didn’t even have time to post the preview.

If you weren’t lucky enough to get tickets for this screening we urge you to seek out the film anyway, and if you’ve not previously been tempted to see it hopefully Holly’s write-up below will convince you otherwise…

Co-written by lead actress Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach’s understated comedy-drama kicks off Minicine’s exciting Modern Monochrome season with plenty of laughs, and an uncomfortable number of relatable moments for anyone who has lived through their twenties, spends far too much time with their best friend, and has an uncanny knack of saying exactly the wrong thing in any, or all, social situations.


The film follows a year or so in the life of Frances (Gerwig), a (still young) twenty-seven year old aspiring dancer, as she moves through the New York hipster scene struggling for money whilst losing, and gaining, flatmates, friends, jobs and boyfriends. If that sounds formulaic and uneventful, the truth is anything but, as much of the films quality lies in making seemingly familiar storylines and universal themes feel personal and unique, with the decision to film in black and white genuinely adding to the sense of peeking into a random snapshot of Frances’s life. All the ingredients for a run-of-the-mill New York staged romantic comedy seem to be included, but, where Frances Ha separates itself from the rest is the relegation of the romantic dynamics to the very back of the background in favour of an almost single-minded focus on the titular character’s individuality and sense of self, and her simultaneous desire and resistance to a entering a fully ‘adult’, responsible life. This conflict is often played out in the portrayal of her intense and all-consuming, sometimes suffocating, relationship with Sophie; the best friend who wants to move on and progress with her life, whilst her platonic bedfellow clings equally and ferociously to both their past friendship and fanciful dreams of the future, watching everyone else move on around her in the present.


The characterisation is masterfully done, helped by a pithy script which is filled with flatmate and friend in-jokes, and dialogue which is often as awkward as it is witty, with the quirky, ‘un-dateable’ Frances an instantly likeable protagonist, but one which in real life would need to be enjoyed in small doses. Enjoyably, Gerwig and Baumbach are never afraid to highlight her flaws, allowing her spirited personality to eventually verge on overbearing and overzealous, culminating in the fantastically cringe-worthy dinner party scenes, where Frances is rudely confronted by the smug success and maturity of her peers. Never one to be defeated, Frances sets off on a personal journey that takes her through the beautifully filmed streets of Paris and New York, leading her back to decisions to be made about herself and her future, rather than a decision between two romantic leads.

– Holly Thackeray

As well as our feature presentation we will be screening a selection of shorts set and filmed in New York City and Abi is hard at work baking a ‘traditional’ Oreo cheesecake to be devoured on arrival.

It feels good to be back.


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