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October 07, 2012

FRANCES HA — NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2012

Colesmithey.comNoah Baumbach takes over Woody Allen’s status as New York’s representative auteur of quirky romantic comedy. As with last year’s magnificent neo-silent film “The Artist,” “Frances Ha” demonstrates how a black-and-white treatment can invoke a nostalgic mood. Written in collaboration with Greta Gerwig, it’s the kind of movie that inspires artists of various disciplines to keep pursuing their dreams, regardless of the odds stacked against them in a collapsing America.

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Greta Gerwig plays Frances, a 27-year-old dancer dubbed “undateable” by her closest male friend. She’s more comfortable shacking up in Brooklyn with her lifelong best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner) than pursuing a romantic connection with the opposite sex. She’s just too awkward. Frances and Sophie are “like an old lesbian couple that doesn’t have sex.” So it goes, until Sophie suddenly announces she is moving out to live in Manhattan’s tony Tribeca section with someone else. The split serves as an awkward wake-up call for Frances to put up or shut up about her dream to become a primary dancer in the dance troop where she understudies. She also wants to choreograph her own dances. But it takes kicking around on many floors, and sofas, before Frances can settle into her own uncomfortable skin.

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Rich with an organic sense of self-reflexive humor that only periodically calls too much attention to itself — the “undateable” line feels like a worn-out inside joke — “Frances Ha” is a comedy of many layers. Greta Gerwig may yet shed her Mumblecore branding once and for all.

Not Rated. 86 mins.

3 Stars

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