Frances Ha

Frances Ha Information

Frances Ha is a 2012 American comedy-drama film directed by Noah Baumbach and written by Baumbach and Greta Gerwig. Gerwig also plays the title role. The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on , 2012. Frances Ha was given a theatrical wide release on , 2013.


Frances Halladay (Greta Gerwig) is a 27-year-old dancer who lives with her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner), but Sophie decides to move out and live with another friend, leaving Frances to figure out how to live her life. From there the film follows Frances to Chinatown (where she shares an apartment with Lev and Benji for a brief period), Sacramento (to see her family for Christmas), Paris (for an uneventful two-day getaway), Poughkeepsie (to work at her old college as a waitress and RA for the summer), and finally back to New York (Washington Heights). Along the way Frances laments her lack of money, her poor prospects as a professional dancer and an increasingly strained relationship with Sophie. The film concludes with Frances reconciling with Sophie and enjoying a modest but undeniably satisfying existence as a fledgling choreographer living alone in her own apartment.


  • Greta Gerwig as Frances Halladay
  • Mickey Sumner as Sophie
  • Charlotte d'Amboise as Colleen
  • Adam Driver as Lev
  • Michael Esper as Dan
  • Grace Gummer as Rachel
  • Patrick Heusinger as Patch
  • Josh Hamilton as Andy
  • Maya Kazan as Caroline
  • Justine Lupe as Nessa
  • Britta Phillips as Nadia
  • Juliet Rylance as Janelle
  • Dean Wareham as Spencer
  • Michael Zegen as Benji


Frances Ha is directed by Noah Baumbach and written by Baumbach and Greta Gerwig. Gerwig, who also stars in the film, announced it in April 2012, though Baumbach's involvement was not revealed until the film's listing in the Telluride Film Festival's lineup. Gerwig starred in Baumbach's 2010 film Greenberg, and they decided to collaborate again. They exchanged ideas and developed characters and eventually co-wrote a script, which was Gerwig's first screenwriting effort. The Los Angeles Times highlighted Gerwig's foray as part of a trend of female actors becoming writers or co-writers; other examples include Zoe Kazan for Ruby Sparks and Rashida Jones for Celeste and Jesse Forever. Gerwig said she did not anticipate starring in Frances Ha, but Baumbach thought she suited the part. He filmed Frances Ha digitally and in black-and-white, the latter to emulate in part collaborations by Woody Allen and his cinematographer Gordon Willis in films like Manhattan (1979). CBS News compared Frances Has style to the works of Jim Jarmusch and Franois Truffaut. Filming locations included New York City, New York, Sacramento, California, Paris, France, and Vassar College, which is Baumbach's alma mater. Gerwig said that Baumbach filmed multiple takes so none of the scenes were truly spontaneous.


The filmmakers included a number of pop songs, including "Every 1's a Winner" by Hot Chocolate, "Rocks off" by The Rolling Stones, "Blue Sway" by Paul McCartney and "Modern Love" by David Bowie. This sequence is an homage to Leos Carax' movie Mauvais Sang, where Denis Lavant runs through the streets (as Greta Gerwig does in Frances Ha with the same soundtrack). The soundtrack also references multiple French films: it contains music by Georges Delerue, Jean Constantin and Antoine Duhamel, originally written for films of the French New Wave.


Frances Ha premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on , 2012. The Los Angeles Times reported its reception, "Audiences seemed pleasantly surprised by the warmth from the often-mordant Baumbach." It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on , 2012. After the screening in Toronto, IFC Films acquired North and Latin American rights to distribute the film in theaters. Frances Ha also screened at the New York Film Festival on , 2012. The film is set to be screened at Edinburgh International Film Festival in June 2013.

The film had a limited release in US theaters on , 2013.

The film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD through the Criterion Collection on 12 November 2013.

Critical response

Frances Ha has been met with critical acclaim. Based on 136 reviews collected by review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 93% "Certified Fresh" approval rating, with an average score of 7.9/10. The site's consensus is: "Audiences will need to tolerate a certain amount of narrative drift, but thanks to sensitive direction from Noah Baumbach and an endearing performance from Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha makes it easy to forgive." Metacritic calculated an average score of 82, indicating "universal acclaim," based on 35 reviews.

Peter Debruge, reviewing for Variety, described Frances Ha, "This modest monochromatic lark doesn't present a story"?or even a traditional sequence of scenes"?so much as it offers spirited glimpses into the never-predictable life of Frances, a 27-year-old dancer." He said Frances was "a character whose unexceptional concerns and everyday foibles prove as compelling as any New York-set concept picture, delivering an affectionate, stylishly black-and-white portrait of a still-unfledged Gotham gal". Linda Holmes, writing for National Public Radio, said, "I have limited patience for the attitude that people talking about nothing is cool and subversive, or that obnoxious people are enthralling, or that people from New York are more interesting than other people." Holmes found the film agreeable: "What helped Frances grow on me as both a character and a movie was Gerwig's vexing"?and yes, sometimes intentionally irritating"?performance as a young woman who's so frenetically trying to fit in that she can't, who's so desperately trying to grab onto something that she slips off every time." She concluded, "The film is funny and likable, despite the trappings of self-conscious New York navel-gazing."

See also

  • List of black-and-white films produced since 1970

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