Frances Ha (★★★½)


NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL: Noah Baumbach has really outdone himself in his newest film, Frances Ha starring Greta Gerwig, who also co-writes.  The film not only stands as one of the great films of 2012, it’s the best of Baumbach’s career.  The film is full of charm, spunk, and a massive amount of heart.

Baumbach makes crucial choices that keep the film from going from brilliant to overtly predictable.  Frances Ha has sharp direction and dialogue delivered profoundly by lead Greta Gerwig and one of the great ensembles of the year that includes the great Adam Driver and Mickey Sumner.  The choice to present the film in black and white is not only tenderly appreciated but immensely gleaming.  The editing, done by Jennifer Lame, is a tightly packed and intelligently executed; Lame showcases herself as a young Thelma Schoonmaker in the making.

Gerwig’s “Frances,” who is a blend of Alyson Hannigan’s character from American Pie and an artistic hybrid of Ellen Page in Juno, is so lovable, even when she’s making poor choices and wonderfully heartwarming.  Gerwig is worthy to stand with any Lead Actress contenders for the Academy Awards.  It’s a tender and loving turn.  It’s always great to see someone love and dedicate themselves to a character the way Gerwig demonstrates.

Supporting players Adam Driver, best known for his unlovable presence on HBO’s “Girls,” lightens up and becomes someone tangible.  Driver is a talent to watch.  Mickey Sumner, reminiscent of Charlotte, Scarlett Johansson’s role in Lost in Translation, is one of 2012’s great finds.  Her “Sophie” is an oxymoron of what is a great companion and a beautiful cinematic personality.  You love “Sophie,” worry about her, long to be with her, though she seems unavailable and absent.  That’s credit to Sumner’s turn.

The star of the film is the screenplay by Baumbach and Gerwig, who both pen the best modern American comedy since Diablo Cody’s Juno.  There’s integrity in what they’re writing.  They assemble this “Frances” from scratch, frame by frame, adding comedic beats that fit her and not just for the sake of a laugh.  They respect the audience watching.

Frances Ha is the best indie-comedy of the year.  A true awards contender for screenplay and Greta Gerwig; if justice exists will include them among any nominees.  New York Film Festival is gearing up!

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