Frances Ha is billed as a comedy, but it isn't. It is the story of a young woman who wants to be what she cannot seem to be. It is a movie that will not appeal to many viewers who demand color, action, noise, violence, sex, etc.
Frances Ha draws you into the life and mind and heart of a real person. And it works on that level. Frances Ha is Greta Gerwig's movie. She was the co-writer and she is the central character.
Frances is a 27-year old unmarried girl who lives with her friend Sophie in Brooklyn, N.Y. They have been as close as sisters since they met in college. Each of their lives is centered on the other, although they do get involved with boyfriends. Frances's boyfriend wants her to move in with him, but she doesn't want to leave Sophie. But Sophie does accept her own boyfriend's offer and she moves in with him. Frances is left
Frances earns a meager income from teaching dance to young children and she is a minor member of a minor new-age dance troupe. Frances's dancing talent is not particularly noteworthy. She gets cut from the upcoming Christmas show and she is now destitute. Frances drifts from one lodging to another, renting rooms from people like her. Her circle of friends consists of contemporary wannabes - wannabee artists, sculptors, writers, actors, etc. Frances has friends, but there is nobody who sees her as a very desirable companion. She - and some of the young men - consider themselves undateable. People are polite to her and may include her in social events, but there isn't any follow-up. She finds out, second hand, that Sophie and her boyfriend are moving to Japan. She is terribly hurt that Sophie did not call her about it.
Frances is a very lonely person. And that is the theme of Frances Ha. Part of her dismal life is caused by her constant display of bravado. She smiles a lot when meeting people. She always displays good cheer and friendliness, hiding her despair. Frances Ha takes us through weeks and months of Frances's struggle to find herself.
When she was cut from the dance troupe, she was offered a position in the office - a desk job. She viewed it as a demeaning step in her life and she refused. She comes to a point where she needs any kind of job and we see her as a champagne pourer at high-level social gatherings. In the end, Frances finds some measure of inner peace when she accepts her limitations. She takes the desk job and renews her friendship with Sophie, who has split with her beau.
Frances Ha is a film of the indie, small budget genre mumblecore. It represents acting, story, audience connection, with less, or no, emphasis on lavish production values.