Frances Ha (Film) Review

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“Ahoy, Sexy?” ~ Frances

Welcome to the second best Collab month of the year: Feminist Film Month! And what better way to kick it off than with a film starring one of my all-time fave women in film? The original double G. What a gal.

This movie could possibly be one of the best representations of the hipster cliche too and I only 80% covet the exact same life for myself. (83%).

To the review!

*Spoilers*

Frances Ha (2012)

IMDB Synopsis

A New York woman (who doesn’t really have an apartment) apprentices for a dance company (though she’s not really a dancer) and throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as the possibility of realizing them dwindles.

My Review

Dance company understudy Frances (Gerwig) is in a long-term friendship with Sophie, her BFF and roommate (Mickey Sumner). Things are blissful until France’s boyfriend buys two hypoallergenic cats and asks her to move in with him. Her reluctance to let Sophie down derails the relationship for good and Frances returns to their grainy best friend montages with barely a backward glance.

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Patty Cake: the most hipster of hipster sports

Things change though when Sophie suddenly decides to move into an artists’ house in a different neighbourhood. Gradually she begins to spend her time with other people, including her boyfriend Patch (Patrick Heusinger) and some girl called Lisa (who’s a cunt apparently).

In turn, Frances moves in with her new friends Benji and Lev (Michael Zegen and my boy Adam Driver). Lev is a casual womaniser, while Benji is more to Frances’ speed, a decent Sophie replacement, especially after the two women have a blazing row about Patch.

In the aftermath of their fight, Frances finds herself not really dancing (aka working) and flitting between apartments. For a while she lives with another dancer, who doesn’t share her passion for rough and tumble play-fighting like Sophie does.

When Frances finds out secondhand that Sophie is moving to Japan with Patch, she starts to lose her grip – and on a whim decides to visit Paris for two days. Thus begins one of the most lonely weekend breaks I’ve ever seen committed to the big screen, as Frances tries to hook up with an old friend but keeps missing her and explores the city of lights alone.

During a phone call with Sophie, who’s finally called to tell her the news about Japan, it seems as though the women work it out but Frances’ optimism is manufactured to make Sophie feel better and it makes me want to sob uncontrollably.

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The little matchstick girl, but with books

Back in NYC, Frances loses her position as apprentice with the dance troupe but is offered work in the office instead. She declines and takes off to her old university for the Summer to be a camp counselor (or something similar). Here she bumps into Sophie and Patch of all people and it soon transpires that the pair are back in the US for Patch’s grandfather’s funeral.

Sophie and Frances have a drunken heart to heart in which Sophie admits she isn’t going to marry Patch (the two have gotten engaged) and that she hates Tokyo. She vows to leave Tokyo – and Patch – to return to New York for good and live in the same neighbourhood as Frances but in the cold light of the next morning, she loses her resolve.

After this, Frances slowly starts to pull her own life back together, first accepting the job at the dance company and then taking advice from her former boss, by choreographing her own show. The show is a modest success and Frances receives positive feedback. She finally finds her own apartment and there’s even a hint of romance on the horizon for  her and old friend Benji.

Things are looking up but will she ever get her friendship with Sophie back on track? I’ll leave that for you to find out.

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What Insta filter is this?

My Thoughts

What a zingy script this film has. Frances’ relentless riffing is joyous and clever but also hugely relatable to anyone who has ever felt wildly out of control of their own life. (All of us at one time or another I’m willing to bet).

There are so many quotable lines from this film that it’s almost impossible to pick a favourite. I’ll list a selection at the end.

My favourite thing about this film is that it’s a love story between two friends. Men come and go but the real focus is whether Sophie and Frances will make it. I love it for that. There’s a tragic inevitably to everything too – that whole concept of being left behind while everyone moves on and grows up, it’s terrifying.

All in all this is one of my favourite films and I can even dislike it for how cool and pretentious it could appear to some people. It’s just beautiful and hopeful  and smart. So there.

My Rating

5/5. Ace of base. A real joy of a film from start to finish.

Feminist Rating

4.5/5. ‘Cos it’s about a central female friendship complete with a wonderful reading/knitting scene. Would have been 5 if Sophie had dumped her boyfriend.

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“Hey, Sophie – you’re a ledge-end!”

Fave Quotes

Benji: Are you still undateable?
Frances: Oh yes, very undateable.

Frances: Don’t treat me like a three-hour brunch friend!

Sophie: It’s just this apartment is very… aware of itself.

Frances: But your blog looks so happy.
Sophie: I don’t think my *mom* would read it if it were about depression.
Frances: My mom would.

What did my good lady wife think of Frances Ha? Would she film it flatteringly in B&W or move to Tokyo to get away from it? Find out here.

 

Best Films of 2017: A Voluptuous Edition

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I’ve read a few comments from people bitching about how shit 2017 has been for the movies and I could not disagree more – this is the year I got not one but three Wonder Woman movies (with varying degrees of success) after all. I’ve been having a blast!

2017 has been the first year I’ve paid for a cinema card and it’s opened me up to a lot of movies I might not have caught otherwise. I also got myself a Duke of York’s membership in the Black Friday sales so now have all my bases covered when it comes to the cinema.

Without too much more waffle, here is a guide to my favourite films of 2017.

My Top 11

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Wonder Woman

There are so many things I should say about this movie that just can’t do it justice. Patty Jenkins‘ Wonder Woman is everything, from the costuming to the story to the shaping of the character herself. It’s taken us a long long time to get here, to get Diana of Themyscira on the big screen and the reality of it was so much better than I could of dreamed.

To see her pushed back to square one in Justice League just a few months later doesn’t bear thinking about but the future of Wonder Woman is bright, I have hope in my heart about that.

My film of the year and my review here.

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The Disaster Artist

While nobody will ever accuse me of being that into James Franco, in this he cannot be faulted. His portrayal of the mysterious Tommy Wiseau is nothing short of miraculous and his dedication to the part never falters.

TDA is hilarious and joyful and weird and respectful while endearing the viewer to the wonderful Wiseau world view. It doesn’t pull punches when it comes to how awful he could be during the filming of The Room but it also doesn’t make him out to be a total arse either. And the friendship element, between Tommy and Greg Sestero, is genuinely heartwarming in places.

A very fun viewing experience.

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The Handmaiden

My favourite director meets my favourite author. There was no way this wasn’t going to make the list.

The Handmaiden is gorgeous, sexy, horrifying and brilliant while the story twists and turns to the bitter end. In Chan-wook Park‘s hands the tale is coated with an extra veneer of mystery and even knowing how it would end from reading Fingersmith, I was pleasantly sated.

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A Ghost Story

I often wonder how this film caught me so unawares. For a start it stars someone I really dislike and although he’s not visible for very much of the film, by rights that should have put me off. It hasn’t though and this film did something not many films are able to do – it got right under my skin.

The story is relatively simple: a young couple lives together until one of them dies. Trapped as a ghost in their home, the man is caught in limbo after his widow moves on. Will he ever be able to leave this realm?

Did I cry? Not until the end credits and then I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. My friend Becky had the same reaction which made me feel better, like I was justified in being so invested. For now I’m avoiding a re-watch so the initial impact can’t wear off.

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Moonlight

Another film I felt, which sounds all kinds of icky but is true. This is a masterpiece in longing and I loved it.

All the actors that play Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes) at three stages of his life are flawless but I think it might be the final scenes between Black and Kevin that seal the deal for me on this one. They’re everything.

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Get Out

Next to Wonder Woman, I think this might be my favourite film of 2017. The experience we had while watching it was amazing, for once the audience participation wasn’t a problem – as people cheered and booed and clapped all the way through it.

Daniel Kaluuya will always be Tealeaf to me but it’s really good to see him in big screen productions. He doesn’t disappoint as Chris, the African-American boyfriend of Allison Williams‘ Rose Armitage, who takes him home to meet the folks one weekend only for things to take an extremely sinister turn.

What was great about this is that it kept its sense of humour throughout, approaches white privilege, cultural appropriation and racism from a fresh angle – and wasn’t the film I’d come to expect from the trailer. Which can only ever be a good thing.

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Call Me By Your Name

What a lush and wonderful slice of perfection this is! Armie Hammer was so good I felt guilty for ever having underestimated his talents.

Set during the heady Summer of 1983, 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) falls in love with his father’s American research assistant Oliver against the backdrop the sumptuous Italian countryside. Simple though this sounds this film, like Moonlight in some ways, is the perfect study in all-consuming, forbidden desire.

And the scene between Elio and his father towards the end is so touching, it’s one of the most powerful I’ve ever seen.

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The Killing of a Sacred Deer

This isn’t exactly what you’d call a comfortable watch but there is something appealing about the mind of Yorgos Lanthimos‘. I loved Dogtooth and The Lobster, so went in with high hopes for TKOASD. Luckily, I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s fucking weird alright, has a twisted black sense of humour and leaves a lot of questions unanswered, all of which I approve of. All performances are great here, particularly sinister af Barry Koeghan as the vengeful Martin.

As for the plot, it’s extremely satisfying to witness the collapse of Doctor Steven Murphy’s (Colin Farrell) perfect life because he’s a careless arse – but you can’t help feeling for his privileged wife and kids. It probably isn’t for everyone but I liked it a lot.

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Lady Bird

Man, I loved this. It nails the complex relationship some women experience with their mothers perfectly, and even for someone who hasn’t experienced it to the same level, it’s so relateable.

Both Saoirse Ronan (the titular “Lady Bird”) and Laurie Metcalf are so believable as mother and daughter. There’s a scene in the dressing room while Lady Bird tries on prom dresses that is so perfect it brings up a lot of emotion (or did for me). Ah mums, gotta love them, right?

Note to Greta Gerwig: you’re a bloody clever woman – and I can’t wait to see what you do next!

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I won’t defend my decision to include this movie on my top list because I shouldn’t have to. Lots of people hated on it and that’s totally fine too but it did what I wanted and needed it to, and some of the big reveals, they make sense (on reflection).

It’s by no means perfect but a Star Wars film is always going to be head and shoulders more exciting than most films because it’s a Star Wars film – and I’m all in.

The things I loved (*with minimal spoilers*): all Carrie Fisher scenes, the introduction of Rose Tico, #spacedernCaptain Phasma, the crystal foxes, Lietenant Connix, the entire salt planet sequence, the fish nuns, Dameron Poe‘s face, PORGS! THAT scene in the red room with the ninja sabres… I could go on.

I’ll definitely be seeing this again as soon as I can because there is an awful lot going on and I’m very much looking forward to it. See you soon Rey & co.

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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

A last minute entry into the Top 11, I can’t be sure if my total enjoyment of this film was down to its subject matter (let’s face it probably) or whether it’s just because it was totally dope. I’m going to say 50/50 and call it a day.

I thought this was just lovely, giving us insight into the man behind the Wonder Woman character and the very real women who inspired him. It’s one of my very favourite stories anyway and to see it brought to the big screen was so much fun.

I loved Rebecca Hall as Elizabeth Marston and very much enjoyed the ménage à trois relationship between the three leads. So worth a watch if you can get to see it, sadly I think this has had a very limited release in the UK.

Other films of note

I also totally loved:
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Blade Runner 2049

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Spider-Man: Homecoming / Paddington 2 / Thor: Ragnarok

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The Big Sick / Tom of FinlandRaw

Most mind boggling and frustrating film of 2017

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mother!

At the very least you can’t accuse Aronofsky of producing boring work. While mother! is many things, it’s not dull. There’s a lot about it to process and I still can’t really work out if I hated it with a passion, didn’t get it – or if it’s actually brilliant.

So rather than getting my worst film vote, it gets most memorable but not necessarily in a good way.

Worst film of 2017 (AKA The Swiss Army Man Award)

Day 22

Colossal

I reacted so bizarrely to this film and have never really been able to compute why. I guess you can’t win them all but I am baffled about it.

Really it should have been everything I wanted but the controlling aspect of the central relationship/friendship caught me off guard and I couldn’t enjoy it. I guess the after-effects of a shitty relationship can seep into anything without warning, even all these years later. So it’s a nope from me, sorry Anne. You had a GREAT fringe though.

What did you love/hate/enjoy this year?