Even in this world of PhotoShop and color correction, sometimes things just appear better in black and white. Ansel Adams photos, Charlie Chaplin films, and Three Stooges re-runs come to mind. That group could now include Noah Baumbach’s (The Squid and the Whale) new film Frances Ha which screens at the San Francisco International Film Festival 2013.
This comedy romps along the streets of Brooklyn (and Paris) with two best female friends in their upper 20s (Greta Gerwig and Mickey Sumner) as they balance their carefree lives between wavering romances, economic uncertainty, creative goals and hipster lifestyles. The film represents the most recent collaboration between Baumbach and Gerwig who teamed up to make the 2010 comedy Greenberg.
This film, shot in a glorious black and white may remind people of early Woody Allen not only because of the black and while imagery but because of the playfully romantic yet off kilter lifestyle of the characters and the film. Instead of Central Park setting, Baumbach sets his charters in motion around the brownstones of Brooklyn, around spurting water fountains and in and out of walk-up apartments buildings.
The film weaves together a series of vignettes that bounce around like an out of control Super Ball. For all the fun, frivolity and friendship that Frances Ha displays, the film manages to blend sweet comedy with problematic life issues. What the film boasts in random fun it lacks in firm narrative in the main characters. It may be fun to watch the girls jump from one situation to the next but without any consequences or ramifications the film seems somewhat shallow. Even though the film lacks the depth of a film such as Manhattan, it still takes viewers on a light-hearted journey worth taking.