Don’t get me wrong. I love Greta Gerwig. She comes across as an engaging, funny and undeniably feminine screen presence.
I just don’t “get” her movies.
She was the best thing about Greenberg and the weakest link in To Rome With Love. I wasn’t crazy about Damsels in Distress or her early “mumblecore” films either. (See what I mean?)
So when I heard that she not only had the starring in a film but also co-wrote the screenplay with director Noah Baumbach of The Squid and the Whale fame (yes, I know, he also wrote and directed Greenberg but, hey, nobody’s perfect) I was – how you say in English? – pumped. (And, yes, I hafta admit I was sucked in by all those raves on the film festival circuit.)
As it turns out, the film didn’t make it to my local movie theatre. In fact, there was only one copy of the DVD at the video store. (Yes, we still have one. It’s independently owned.)
Ms. Gerwig plays a young woman with a burning ambition to be a dancer with a world class company. The pic seems to be about her character coming to grips with the brutal realization that she does not have the talent necessary to achieve her dream.
To this viewer the film seems to be all about Ms. Gerwig dancing across picturesque NYC locations while Mr. Baumbach follows her adoringly with a camera. Yes, I know it is supposed to be a homage to French New Wave films of the 1950s. (There are several scenes set in Paris just in case you didn’t pick up on the references.)
The film scored 82% on metacritic.com and an 80% audience approval rating on rottentomatoes.com although cranky but respected film critic David Thomson did write on thenewrepublic.com “the risks in Frances Ha are cute and playful, and in time it may look not just like a fifty-year-old New York New Wave picture, but also as embarrassing as those photographs you burn before you get married.”
Frances Ha picked up a Film Independent Spirit nomination for Best Feature (the indie equivalent of a Best Picture Oscar nom) as well as a Best Editing nomination (for Jennifer Lame.)
However, there are no nominations in the acting, directing or writing categories (a fact host Patton Oswalt may have fun with when the ceremony is broadcast on IFC March 1st 2014.)
Ms. Gerwig is a Golden Globe nominee (Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical) but, again, there is no mention of the film in the best feature, screenplay or directing categories.
I’m confused. Maybe they should have called the film Frances, Huh?
As Joe Neumaier writes on nydailynews.com: “the beguiling Gerwig is still waiting for her moment …”