Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Frances Ha (2013): Losers Dancing through Life

Francis Ha (2013)
dir: Noah Baumbach

Let's open with this statement: I hate this movie.

Not just hate, but HATE. This movie is about whiny white people who do stupid shit yet have no consequences.

Take Frances, for example. She is pressured into moving in with her boyfriend, but her loyalty to her "best friend" keeps her from taking the leap, and she breaks up with him. Because her boyfriend needs to be answered right then and there. Jesus, he's a fucking spouse abuser control freak waiting to happen. But, then her "best friend" doesn't even tell Frances that she is looking for another place to move to.

Then, Frances moves to the couch with two guys, who seem gay but apparently aren't. One is a cute guy who seems into Frances but they move themselves into the Friend Zone. The other is a guy who seems to not be able to stand her because she's fucking annoying, and he's fucking self-centered. Both of them are trust fund babies.

Of course, Frances is depending on being in some Christmas Show. Which she fights to wedge herself into despite it being obvious she isn't wanted. And, because she isn't good, she's dropped. So, she goes home for the holidays, then off to Paris to stay in a friend of a friend's pied a terre. That apartment's owner had only met her once, so of course they offer it for free to Frances.

Meanwhile, the "best friend" is in a relationship with a sweet rich dude, but she's so bitter and angry that it never lasts.

Frances, out of pride, declines a front desk job in NYC at her dance company to move out to Poughkeepsie to work as a server?!  And, then, somehow, she moves back to NYC and gets a job that she can live on and becomes a mildly successful choreographer. Or, at least successful enough to live in her own apartment. Which is the key sign of success or some rot.

Are we supposed to feel anything for these people who just need to stop talking? Frances can't say anything right, and is utterly and constantly focused on herself and how everything affects her life. And, she tells lengthy stories of no interest about friends who had hooked up in college, though nobody cares because she doesn't tell us why anything is interesting. It is as boring as she is. And, her dance is as stupid as this movie is. It's supposed to look like a mistake, because, as she glibly puts it, she "likes things that looks like mistakes." Because they resemble her mistakes.

In essence, this is the story of an annoying terrible dancer, who goes to California, Paris, Poughkeepsie, and back to NYC in order to face up to the fact that she'll never be a famous dancer, and has to "settle" for being an acceptable choreographer. Poor baby.

Of course, this is representative of the hipster lifestyle. It's OK to be as annoyingly self-centered as these assholes and to use and abuse wealthier pseudo-friends in order to make your own life easier until you can't stand them anymore. Frances sees herself as poor, but the one Friend Zone guy tells her that's insulting to poor people, or something. It's all about entitlement, and trying to move past it. But, Frances Ha skims over the line between being entitled and getting to the solution. She just, somehow, makes it happen. Magic or something. In NYC. Yeah.

Besides that, there is the hipster aesthetic which is the chewing up of the past in order to vomit out something seen as cool because it references something else. Baumbach is trying to emulate Woody Allen's Manhattan, or Francois Truffaut, in many of his moments. But, frequently, his shots are just basic, boring, ugly, bland, and have no sense of depth. The cinematography is as flat and lifeless as the characters that inhabit the frame.

Fuck this movie.

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