Based on the trailer for Frances Ha, you'd be forgiven for thinking it looked a bit, well, kooky. It definitely displays all the classic tropes of those chirpy feelgood dramedies where Manic Pixie Dream Girls say crazy, impulsive things and dream their days away while you watch and feel mildly ill, all the while secretly wishing you could be doing the same thing (... or is that just me?). In any case, Frances Ha offers a lot more.
The story of Frances and her best friend Sophie - as two women in New York in their late twenties - sees Sophie entering into a serious relationship, which jeopardizes the girl's friendship by forcing them to spend less time together. This in itself seems childish, but when you see the extent to which they care for each other, deeply and movingly, you can see why spending every waking minute together could seem an essential part of life.
This is director Noah Baumbach's "Woody Allen" film: having been working solely on the West Coast, he's finally chosen to shoot in New York for his latest endeavor. There are definitely hints of Allen in his writing, though Baumbach's does, in some cases, come across all the more authentically (the only real exception being the line "Tell me the story of us", which sent shivers of distress down my spine). The dialogue flows majestically, seeming all the more effusive when compared with Breathe In's no less effective sparseness.
Some of this is definitely due to title actor Gerta Gerwig's role as co-writer on the project, managing to create a wonderful feeling of spontaneity; my favorite such moment being when one of the male character touches Frances on the shoulder and receives in return a noise like a startled cat. Frances Ha could easily have fallen into the territory of quirky indie film - the fact it's shot in black and white pushes it even further into the oeuvre - and yet it retains a vibrant personality of its own.
All the characters in Frances Ha feel like real, lived-in human beings, Frances in particular: the times when she's with her family, for instance, show another side to her the balances out the quirkiness and makes it feel justified and endearing. It's hard not to fall in love with Gerwig's jubilant, child-like way of being and the ending - which I won't spoil - had me leaving the screening with a smile on my face, not least because of the amazing use of Bowie's Modern Love.