Monday, September 10, 2012

New New Wave

A review of Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha, co-written by and starring Greta Gerwig, that has me very ready to see what sounds like a strong return to form for Baumbach. If you're a Baumbach hater be careful, some pretty grand comparisons are made herein. (HND)

The film was shot relatively quickly, on an even more modest budget than what Baumbach usually trades in, and without the stars that have headlined his most recent films. The resulting spontaneity seems to suggests an allowance for improvisation, which belies the fact that these characters and, in particular, their words are so carefully developed and finessed into such casually observant creations by Baumbach and Gerwig. The aesthetic of the film is likewise reflected in this intuitive approach, instilling the surface hues of Woody Allen's monochromatic Manhattan with the sharply cut montage dynamics of the French New Wave. As mentioned, the latter movement feels like an especially apt touchstone here. Not only do Frances's first new roommates (Adam Driver and Michael Zegen, both seemingly snatched from real life and very funny as potential partners for Frances) have a poster of Fran├žois Truffaut's Small Change hanging on their wall, but on a more personal level, the relationship between Baumbach and Gerwig itself—and the subsequent creative energy that it seems to have spawned—feels something like an angst-ridden inversion of the one between Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina a half century ago.

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