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Frances Ha

3/10

Stars: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Charlotte D’Amboise, Adam Driver, Hannah Dunne, Michael Esper, Grace Gummer, Patrick Heusinger, Josh Hamilton, Cindy Katz, Maya Kazan, Justine Lupe, Britta Phillips, Juliet Rylance, Dean Wareham, Michael Zegan

Director: Noah Baumbach

Will co-writer and director Noah Baumbach and star and cowriter Greta Gerwig be fighting over who should be acclaimed as the key auteur of this largely pointless, essentially plotless low-budget, lower-impact comedy?

Since we are informed that Baumbach and mumblecore/artfilm actress Gerwig are a couple in real life, I imagine they’ll both he happy basking in the predominantly positive critical reception for their film.

Sorry, but count me out.

I rapidly tired of Gerwig’s supremely self-adoring but basically flimsy and never convincing portrait of a character who appears to want little out of life except to dance along the streets of Manhattan like a refugee from a high school musical while not showing a huge amount of interest in her training as a professional dancer. She prefers to hang out with her friend and roommate Mickey Sumner (the daughter of Sting but on the evidence of her colourless performance here, unlikely to became as famous as her father).

Their relationship is close, even to the point of sharing a bed but, as Sumner says, “We are like a lesbian couple who don’t have sex any more”. Eventually, however, Gerwig and Sumner part company and Gerwig goes travelling. By this time, I’d happily have gone travelling too: anything to avoid having to spend any more time with Baumbach and Gerwig.

Since Frances Ha is filmed in black-and-white, it lays claim to being an art movie. And, as such, it is being critically hailed all over the world.

And that, as they say, is Show Business.

For my money, however (and no, there is no way I would pay to sit through this ego-driven show again) monochrome and mediocrity and homage to early Woody Allen don’t qualify as art.

Baumbach made the delightful The Squid and the Whale.

Here, however, he has landed an overdone and distinctly dead flounder. Maybe he should have listened to the early line of dialogue when her boyfriend tells Gerwig, “Maybe this isn’t working”. Even at that early stage, the line was as positive a critical verdict as the film deserves.

In fairness, Frances Ha should probably continue to provide Baumbach and Gerwig with home movie happiness over the years.

P.S. You have to wait far too long to find out where the title comes from. Don't bother.

Alan Frank

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Metrodome. Black and white.
86 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 25 Jul 2013