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Hey, lookie, it’s probably the best film so far this year!

I’m not really sure how to express that properly though, as being one of the best films that have come out this year.  But I’ll try.

This films succeeds largely on the shoulders of Greta Gerwig, who gives a marvelous performance as the title character.  She’s a fun character, she’s engaging, and she’s enjoyable.  She’s also sporadic and frustrating, and can’t easily tell the truth.  She’s like any twenty-something who is trying to figure life out but ends up making stupid decisions that affect her, but there’s also things that end up largely out of her control and there’s nothing she can do.  Then there are the moments when she has complete control, and instead of taking it, she sidesteps it for no explicable reason (there was one moment during the film that I wanted to yell my frustration at the screen).

There’s no real forward momentum in the film, such that life can be (one wakes up, go through the days events, then goes back to sleep, repeat ad nauseum).  It does cover about a year in Frances’ life and the things that happen around her: her best friend Sophie decides to move first to a more expensive part of NYC, then to Japan with her boyfriend; France moves in with a couple random guys who quickly find out how undateable she is; she wants to dance, but can’t get beyond the apprentice level.  She goes to several places in the film (Sacramento to visit her family, a random weekend in Paris, and a summer in her alma mater).  The ending goes well for her and a lot of other characters that show up in the film, though she doesn’t change one bit, which is fine.  There are occasions where characters don’t change at all in the course of a film, simply because this is a slice of life and there’s no real reason for them to change (Happy-Go-Lucky is one such example of a great film where Poppy doesn’t change at all).  I can’t tell if her ending is earned though, especially during the more frustrating bits of the film.  As short as the film was (only 86 minutes), it could have used probably one or two more scenes to connect things better.

This film has also made me wonder if I’ll ever get Noah Baumbach.  I saw Greenberg a few years ago and, at the time, hated it a lot because of Ben Stiller’s character and how much of a disruptive and unchanging asshole he was.  I’ll have to rewatch it again though at some point, mainly to see if my opinion has changed, because it seems like that’s the kind of characters Baumbach likes to write about[1].  That said, he does make really good films, and his characters, as frustrating they can be, are fully realized persons.  The writing is top notch too between Baumbach and Gerwig.  It helps that this movie is hilarious, and probably the funniest film of the year because everything clicks so well.  The monochromatic color scheme is interesting as well, with some pretty good choices in wardrobe and such.

I caught this movie at the tail end of its box office run, so it’ll be out of theaters really soon.  Definitely catch it though when it makes it to DVD and VOD.  I can’t recommend it enough.  Just see it.

[1] Then again, Core saw Margot at the Wedding and loathed it completely, so I don’t think I’m the only one who doesn’t get Baumbach.

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