Black & White Noah Baumbach comedy depicts an unstable girl in New York trying to find her way in an expensive city. Greta Gerwig plays the girl Frances Ha, lovable but at the same time killing her own opportunities. Part of her failures come from her loose acrid tongue, part of it is not seizing invitations that come her way. What can I say other than I sorta liked this movie without being completely satisfied or immersed. Much of the first act works, the second act is sympathetic transition stuff, the third act shows redemption of character and yet to me was plodding.
The opening montage of Frances and best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner) is snappy physical and verbal humor. It has you wondering about a borderline lesbian connection between them, but they’re simply close roommates. When Sophie gets a boyfriend, she moves out of the apartment, forcing Frances to find a new address (the running joke becomes how she downgrades several times to lousier living quarters). She considers herself a professional dancer, but she is dropped by the dance company. The ballet director offers her a clerical job for the company, but Frances declines out of too much pride.
Black & White is implemented well on a short budget. There are shots in the movie that are reminiscent of Woody Allen’s classic “Manhattan.” The movie isn’t too interior, either, as Baumbach hops around to capture enough city locations. Wit isn’t in short supply. I had a belly-laugh when Frances insists on paying for her date, but has to run to the ATM down the street, way down the street, running into obstacles. Frances eventually builds some self-confidence. And yet, after all that, the film’s conclusion is still too much in the mopes.
86 Minutes. Rated R.
CEREBRAL COMEDY / FOOD FOR THOUGHT MOVIE / LATE NIGHT CHUCKLES
Film Cousins: “Manhattan” (1979); “Margot at the Wedding” (2007); “Greenberg” (2010); “Lola Versus” (2012).