Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha is a curious blend of universality and specificity. It tells the tale of young Frances Halliday (Greta Gerwig), an aspiring dancer, as she bounces from apartment to apartment in New York City. We follow her successes and her failures, and watch her orbit through and around various friendship groups, moving away from some relationships while developing new bonds. The focal relationship of the film is that of Frances and her friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner); they share a bond that wanes and strengthens like an oscillating rubber band.
The film is intentionally aimless; Frances walks a winding track, finding her working odd jobs with odd people. Frances Ha feels like an amalgamation of Manhattan and Girls: a conflicted ode to the city of New York. The specificity comes from the way it rests heavily on the cultural capital of New Yorkers: budding artists and aspirational professionals who all have an intimate knowledge of Proust and the French New Wave. It’s all lovingly shot and beautifully acted and well-written, but to me it just came across as a bit insular, as though I was trying to hang out with the cool kids without really understanding who they were.