I cracked at Dublin Airport the other day. Yes, cracked, went completely wild.
I bought British Vogue.
This is a scandal. It is, I assure you. I only buy British Elle. If I wish to read Vogue, then it is French Vogue, not Italian, nor Spanish, nor British. But the French edition was not available so what is a fashionista to do, except break her own religious, set-in-stone, too-young-to-be-this-weird rules?
Anyway. I bought it, devoured it, from cover to cover (somehow, the Dublin-Paris journey, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, is exactly the amount of time it takes me to
read thoroughly analyze a new magazine, leaving out the beauty section which I never ever read) and stumbled upon an interview with new face of the indie-cinematic-stratosphere, Greta Gerwig. You may know her from having seen Lola Versus, Hannah Takes the Stairs, Greenberg, Nights and Weekends, Arthur or even Sex Friends; I, on the other hand, despite her extensive filmography, had never come across her, had absolutely no idea who she was. But her interview spoke to me instantly, and Frances Ha, new movie which she co-wrote and starred in, became my next must-see.
I did not watch the trailer, did not look into her other films, and just went. Well, I can tell you I was as surprised as I was delighted.
Having somehow escaped the shrill madness surrounding The Artist last year, this was my first modern black and white film. A first plus, seeing as I happen to be a sucker for anything done in black and white, be it photography or film. (This I would have known had I watched the trailer, what fun would that have been?)
Frances is a twenty-seven year old modern dancer living in New York, whose world collapses when her best friend (and flat-mate) Sophie leaves her to move on with her life… whilst Frances just gets left behind. Soul-searching wouldn’t be the most accurate term to describe her, because she knows who she is, what she wants. She is simply trying to find her way in the big city, without a partner, without her friend, without money and without a job. Realistic and moving, the film is built around different addresses, different “homes” which just do not work out because home is where the heart is, and her heart is with Sophie. (Nothing is explicit, they both seem heterosexual, but their love is definitely present and cannot be dismissed.)
Snippets of normal everyday life, dry dark humour, the ups and downs of newfound adulthood make her personal story universal. One can’t help but relate to Gerwig’s character, love her and hate her, want to comfort and shake her. The movie expresses freedom, how wonderful and terrifying it can be, and it is felt as much through the storyline as it is in the execution. Yes, because as well as being a beautiful tale, it is also filmed so artistically, unprofessionally at times, perfectly echoing the ideas conveyed by Frances and her mess of a life.
Poetic is the word which springs to mind. Not a blockbuster, not the next big rom-com, simple and sweet, Frances Ha makes you think, because it all seems and feels so true, so possible, so normal. If you’re a Girls and Lena Dunham fan like myself, then this film is for you. Gerwig and Dunham are actually friends, and you can feel it when watching the movie, even though Gerwig had not watched Girls before writing Frances Ha, so no influence was possible. But somehow, it makes sense that they would get along so well, because of how similarly lost yet optimistic their respective main characters are.
I am thrilled that real women are writing about real women for real women today. It’s all very underground and indie, and you either love it or hate it, but it was about time. I am not one to recommend a movie or book because we all perceive things so differently, and what spoke to me might not speak to you. But if you are even just a little intrigued after reading this, then I’ll be satisfied.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In my opinion, Frances Ha is truly beautiful. But that’s just me.
(Trailer for those interested)