Wannabe ballerina Frances (Greta Gerwig, who also co-wrote the screenplay) is having trouble finding her place in the world. Her best friend forever, and roommate, Sophie (Mickey Sumner) has ditched her for a dream apartment in Tribeca, the people at the dance school she works at are, as politely as possible, giving her the boot and she is, in her own words, ‘undateable’.
This sharp but sweet coming-of-age comedy is character-driven narrative at its best. The blaring New York backdrop greatly facilitates director Noah Baumbach, as its intemperate nature vastly contrasts to the gentle geniality of France’s character, so underlining the alienating hardships she faces. The overall direction is smart without being distracting, but it is Gerwig’s candid performance that seizes the attention.
Shot in monochrome Gerwig’s expressive face is akin to that of a silent screen starlet; every flicker of vulnerability, each glint of possibility, ripples out from those wide, earnest eyes. She is a performer who is completely unafraid of her body, one who uses every movement and tick to convey meaning and consequently, despite the fact that her character is lost, clumsy and awkward, we want to follow Frances on her journey.
The film’s greatest triumph is a refreshing conclusion that circumvents cliché. The independent spirit runs through the film—and Frances—to the very last frame; a rarity in modern mainstream cinema.