I want to make one thing very clear from the start. I am not a professional matchmaker. I have never even been on Match.com or eHarmony. (My wife won't let me.) But when I see two kids who are as obviously meant for each other as Frances Halladay and Llewyn Davis, I just have to speak up.
Sure, there are obstacles to this relationship. Frances, the Greta Gerwig creation from Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha, is a 27-year-old in present-day New York City. And Llewyn, as played by Oscar Isaac in the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, is just about the same age, only in 1961. So, were we confined by the reality of time, Llewyn is coming up on 80 today. But if any city could make it happen, New York is the place.
And film is the medium.
After all, consider the similarities. Frances is desperate to be a dancer, so much so that she braves NYC without a permanent address or even a full-time job. She relies on the benevolence of her network of friends to ensure a roof over her head each night. And the same goes for Llewyn (only he wants to be a folk singer).
Llewyn has several options to get off his roller coaster. There is a non-music job waiting for him should he ever give up. There is even a job in music that he could take, but it wouldn't be his music, so he turns it down. Frances also has a realistic job offer which she turns down because it would prevent her from pursuing her art. In the end, both arrive at similar decisions regarding their futures, though, for Llewyn, trapped as he is in a Coen Brothers movie, that decision is far more ambiguous and perhaps less optimistic.
But that's not all. Both Frances and Llewyn make spontaneous journeys - one to Paris and the other to Chicago - in ill-conceived attempts to find some meaning and success. (One hitchhikes and the other runs up debt on a credit card. Now, even if it were possible to hitchhike from NYC to Paris, you could probably guess that it's the '60s hippie who climbs into a strange car with strange guys, and the modern millennial who maxes out the Visa).
Both are repeatedly reminded by potential romantic interests of their value. I'm not sure whether Frances is called "undateable" more than Llewyn is called an "asshole," but I suspect both totals run into double digits.
And then there's the breakdown, a staple of all struggling-artist movies. Though not as explosive as Paul Giamatti's breakdown in Sideways, both have their own somewhat embarrassingly public... well, embarrassments. Llewyn actually has several. In keeping with their gender, Frances' humiliation results in an emotional scene with her best soul-mate girlfriend, while Llewyn just gets the crap kicked out of him. (And for the record, it's not fair to compare either to Giamatti's character Miles in Sideways. Miles is a writer, and everyone knows when it comes to emotional outbursts, writers are far more effusive than those phlegmatic singers and dancers).
And if all that isn't enough for you, there's the issue of the cat. In Frances Ha we don't see the cat - it just serves as a symbol of her unwillingness to be tied down in any type of committed relationship while her dreams are so up in the air. But in Inside Llewyn Davis, we actually get to see two cats. It being a Coen Brothers' movie, the symbolic value of them is far beyond me, though I suspect it has something to do with resiliency.
The fact that Frances lives in a sprightly black and white world (that's not symbolic - the movie is filmed in black & white) and Llewyn world is in sharp, if rather dark, color, shouldn't be a problem. And best of all, as a modern gal, Frances would no doubt be very educated in the latest birth control methods, which would save Llewyn a lot of emotional turmoil and financial distress.
So, maybe there's a Kickstarter campaign in the offing that could bring these two kids together. The resulting movie, Inside Frances Ha, might end up with an NC-17 rating, but, if that hurts its domestic box office, it more or less ensures the Palm D'Or at Cannes next year.
By the way, for those of you actually interested in seeing either movie, they are both worth it. Frances Ha is offbeat and odd, but so engaging that it makes for a fun couple of hours. Inside Llewyn Davis is not exactly fun. Though it has the requisite Coen wit, it is a somber, rather episodic story. But it is so well performed with such sharply drawn characters, and has such a good soundtrack, that it never ceases to be entertaining. So, if struggling artists are your thing, check them out. I'm just not sure if they are date movies - after all, I am not a professional dating expert.