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05/28/2013 06:03 pm ET | Updated Jul 28, 2013

Popcorn Preview: Frances Ha

Film: Frances Ha (2012)
Cast includes: Greta Gerwig (No Strings Attached), Mickey Sumner (Last Chance Harvey), Adam Driver (Girls), Michael Zegen (Adventureland)
Writer/Director: Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Fantastic Mr. Fox)
Genre: Light Drama | Comedy (86 minutes)

Play fighting, running, dancing, singing in the street... ordinary teenage-style cutting up, except that Frances and Sophie are a little past their teens. Frances's boyfriend has found a solution for her cat allergy... a hypoallergenic Rex cat... "We could get them together and move in together." But Frances tells him, "I promised Sophie I'd stay until the end of the lease... and we might renew the lease." Dan thinks maybe they should break up... or maybe not. Yes, they should break up. Maybe Frances is better off... "out of relationship jail." It's just Frances and Sophie again... back to their original "story of us... we're going to take over the world... Sophie as a publisher and Frances as a dancer." They're both 27, so it's time to get started. "Ahoy, Sexy!" Sophie's friends Lev and Benji are always ready to party, so Frances tags along, even though they aren't her friends. Naturally, it seems like a betrayal when Sophie tells Frances she's moving in with Lisa. "It's literally my favorite street in Tribeca. I know you can't afford to live in Manhattan. It doesn't mean we won't still be best friends."

A refund check from Uncle Sam gives Frances the push she needs to call Lev and invite him to lunch. She insists on paying but finds she's short on cash. So in her mad dash to the ATM, she takes a fall and eventually lands in Lev and Benji's apartment getting cleaned up. One thing leads to another, and Frances moves in as the third roommate... it's the "best thing that's happened since Sophie left me." Lev and Benji are both artists with family money, but Frances lives hand to mouth... hoping she'll be in her dance company's Christmas show so she can pay the rent. Naturally, it feels like another betrayal when Frances learns that Sophie and Patch are getting engaged and moving to Tokyo.

Even if all of Frances's plans work out, it seems as if she isn't progressing much from her college years. Most of her friends seem to be doing very grown up things... getting good jobs, getting married, moving on. Frances needs a few good breaks... on the other hand, she doesn't seem to know how to take advantage of a good break. Anyone who's ever found themselves in limbo between different life stages will likely feel Frances's pain. It's one thing to know what you want, seize an opportunity and run with it. It's quite another to want nothing except to return to your comfort zone... but find that it's not there any more. Frances Ha isn't a fast-paced movie. It gives us time to wallow in Frances's floundering around... which may not be comfortable or interesting for all moviegoers. Noah Baumbach is an interesting filmmaker, with some popular independent and mainstream films to his credit. This film feels like a throwback to his days as a struggling independent filmmaker... for now, putting on hold his "plans to take over the world.... Sometimes it's good to do what you're supposed to do when you're suppose to do it."

2 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
Several years out of college, Frances's friends are all moving on, but Frances can't get her act together

Popcorn Profile
Rated: R
Audience: Young adults
Distribution: Art house
Mood: Neutral
Tempo: In no hurry
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism
Character Development: Engaging
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Thought provoking

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