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Frances Ha and Middles

July 1, 2013 by Carley

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Sorry blog, I’ve been ignoring you for a while.  But I do miss you and I’m back!

So, like a lot of people, I’m a little obsessed with the new movie, Frances Ha, directed by Noah Baumbach.  I like that it’s about a love affair between two twenty-something best friends, Frances and Sophie–it’s so rare to see a movie with smart women at the center.  I like too that it’s about becoming an adult, finding your way through New York city real estate, and figuring out if you can and should make art.  When Great Gerwig runs/dances/skips/turns through the streets of Manhattan to David Bowie’s “Modern Love,” my heart runs/dances/skips/turns too!  I recognize this exuberance, the kind of dancing joy that finding one’s place in New York (even if only for a minute or a month) can induce.  But mostly, I think I’m obsessed with Frances Ha because it feels to me more like a movie about the middle of things, of getting stuck and moving forward and of finding one’s way in the world alone.  At one point Frances and Sophie decide that in the future they’ll  be like middle age women who re-discover themselves after a divorce.  Sophie deadpans, “My mom did that.”

Maybe I’m projecting.  But these moments, for obvious reasons, are dear to me right now.  I love that Frances gets her own apartment and sets up her desk in it.  Baumbach has always been good at the chaos of re-inventing oneself or of finding one’s way in an urban landscape with a severed, “middle-aged” psyche (watch Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels in The Squid and the Whale).  It’s Sophie we worry about–she’s going to marry Patches, a well-meaning banker guy, and has given up her publishing job.  She spends the second half of the movie drunk, belligerent, and sad.  But Frances, who chooses to go it alone, who is repeatedly, jokingly called “undateable” by one of her pining, dickhead roommates, is gonna make it.  I dunno, the movie gives me blind, stupid hope, and everyone needs that, especially in New York, in the midst of a divorce. Right?

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