Overview: From the minds of Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig comes this quirky “comedy” that follows Frances (Gerwig), an aimless apprentice who lacks dance skill but understudies and teaches at a dance studio. 2013; Rated R; 86 Minutes.
The Blunder: What the hell is wrong with Frances. Frances. Oh, Frances The weird, slow-minded, socially-challenged title character. She struggles with every aspect of her life and lies to everyone around (including herself. After turning down the opportunity to move in with her boyfriend to appease her roommate Sophie (Mickey Sumner), Frances returns home to find out that Sophie is moving out. Left alone Frances shacks up with some equally, dull pretentious characters. The movie continues in this direction as Frances’s life grows more and more pathetic. The dreary dialogue and self-absorbed, emotionless characters she encounters along the way will bore viewers unconscious. Her friends are annoying and her roommates are infuriating. From struggling “artists” with rich parents and no rent responsibility to the boring and over-opinionated, Frances’s social circle places her problems in a contextualized frame. Having to hang out with these types of people seems measurably more difficult than not getting a part in the dance recital. And when her friends do offer help, it seems an empty gesture with no companionship. Everything about this feels shallow and contrived and I have to wonder if the presentation of her self-indulgent friends is an indication of the demographic at which the movie is aimed (a bucketful of assholes).
The Stumble: The French New Wave influence feels more like gimmick than homage and the black and white cinematography just adds another measure of mind-numbing pointlessness (I welcome anyone to give me a rational explanation for why this technique works in this movie). Baumbach’s insistence on quirk derails another film.
The Whole Clumsy Dance: This movie is just uncomfortably awkward. From the dull characters, to the tedious pacing, this film knocks Baumbach off of the stride that he established with past films like… umm… give me a minute… I’m sure there’s something…