Frances doesn't have her shit figured out.
She's a 27-year-old dancer, overly reliant on her best friend, self-proclaimed as undateable, can barely pay rent, doesn't really have a "job" job and has no real grasp on her future.
Oh, how I envy her.
A film has never resonated with me more than Frances Ha, the latest film from Noah Baumbach, co-written by and starring Greta Gerwig as the title character. I drove 20 miles to and saw this at theater by myself. 12 other people -- ranging in age from high school cinephile to elderly woman -- were there, also all by themselves on that Saturday morning. There was some weird, collective introspection going on.
Frances Ha hit me. As the credits rolled over the last frame, I had these chills like the first time I thought I fell in love. On the drive home, I contemplated why. Maybe it was Gerwig, evolving from OG mumblecore actress to Oscar front runner. Maybe it was the mentioned spec script for Gremlins 3. Maybe it was the Bowie.
But probably, it's because I'm still trying to figure my own shit out.
What a cliché, though, am I right? You know, lazy, entitled millennials, with their liberal arts degrees and their selfies and their Pitchfork "Best New Music" playlists on Spotify. Their total lack of ambition to pay back student loans. That year of graduate school where they found themselves saying "social construct" more often. Their liberal activism that amounts to retweeting Rachel Maddow or changing their Facebook picture to a symbol.
Although I'm not the stereotype, I'm for sure the cliché. I want to be a "writer." I guess since you're reading this, in the most technical sense, I am. I have a journalism degree and I know how to write in AP Style. BFD! I want to be a writer -- an ambiguously defined writer.
But being a writer hasn't paid my bills; my parents have paid my bills. Currently, I'm living in their basement. I eat their food. I use their internet. I watch their cable. I'm on their insurance. Whatever income that comes in from my underemployment, I save. I've stopped drinking, smoking, going out and generally, spending money. I sell things on eBay to supplement my low income. Do I feel like shit, knowing that this isn't necessarily how I envisioned my life at this point, watching the entire season of The Celebrity Apprentice: All Stars with my parents? Kinda. But I have no "woe is me" attitude. I don't feel entitled. I feel the straight and narrow path I used to envision has veered.
I'm not finding myself. I'm found. I'm just trying to make it all work.
I've spent the last year waking up every morning, having four cups of coffee and applying for jobs. I've scoured CareerBuilder and Indeed and Craigslist and weird niches of the internet that I didn't even knew existed. I've had e-mail interviews, phone interviews, three hour interviews at corporate headquarters -- but nah, dude; I'm still chillin in the basement, freelancin and freeballin!
A few weeks ago, I applied for the Chilli's To-Go position -- where you essentially take orders, put them into a computer and ring people up when they come to pick their meals up. Within two hours, I got a rejection e-mail. I could've went into a deep depression, popping Klonopin and wondering why my piece of paper that says I'm a college graduate couldn't provide me with a job slinging boneless buffalo bites.
I didn't. I applied at Applebees.
Frances Ha made me feel at ease with being a cliché. Frances, while the narrative of her life is not linear as it splattered, is sincerely indicative of what it feels like to be on the funeral march toward 30 and still not have that ironclad five-year-plan. She's a little nuts, but she's one of the strongest, most well-defined female characters in some time. She's undefined by a male/boyfriend/husband. Her friend (not friends) is changing and growing-up and she's passive aggressively pissed off. She's self-absorbed and self-obsessed, but not for vanity's sake. She had the courage to leave her family in California to pursue a dream in New York, see that dream left unfulfilled and still not give up.
To me, at this very moment in my life, that's incredibly inspiring. I want to shun Middle America and corporate jobs with an HR department and fantasize about living a Bohemian lifestyle as long as I can, even though I'm in Middle America, would gladly take a corporate job and live in the suburbs! Everything that has white women in New York in present time is being compared to Girls, almost always unfairly. I can relate to that show because hey, we're all twentysomethings and that Icona Pop song is dope, but it doesn't remind me of my life. Frances Ha does. There are no magical offers to write e-books, there are cringes at paying the $3 ATM surcharge.
At a short 86 minutes, I wanted to live in the beautiful black and white New York and Paris that Baumbach and Gerwig created. Forever. Though she hits numerous detours, she never stopped evolving and believing. I want to see the rest of her journey and watch her turn into an old woman who wears hats like Diane Keaton.
I 'm aware this movie and this catharsis may not resonate with you. I have it good. I realize I have it good. I'm a white male from a middle class family! I'm blessed/fortunate/lucky/privileged that I even have an opportunity to get my shit together due to my parents being gracious enough to let me "crash" (indefinitely) at their crib. I'm self-aware of my situation and realize that people have it much, much, much worse, but this is my life right now.
If I learned anything from Frances Ha is that life is a continuous and never-ending process to improve yourself without comprising (all) of your dreams.
Right now, I'm Chris Krap. That last "e" and "k" will come soon.