Two girls romp around the city, tap dancing and play fighting and falling asleep together like puppies. Except they’re not girls, they’re women, and they’re about to be smacked in the face by the reality of adult friendships. Frances (played by co-screenwriter Greta Gerwig) and Sophie (Mickey Sumner) are so tight that Frances turns down moving in with her boyfriend because she wants to keep living with Sophie. But when Sophie announces she wants to move in with someone else once their lease is up, Frances is heartbroken. She and her boyfriend broke up with hardly a ripple, but this breakup shatters her and sends her off on a disastrous couch tour.
The film invites two clear comparisons: Lena Dunham’s Girls and Woody Allen’s Manhattan. But Frances Ha illustrates a far more down-to-earth reality than Girls does; you really believe that Frances is broke, that her life sucks, and that even though she’s totally irresponsible, she’s also close to breaking out of her solipsism. And like Allen’s classic comedy, Frances Ha is in black and white, is beautifully shot, and features a neurotic, messy person as its lynchpin.
What sets Frances Ha apart is its huge, beating heart. Like its heroine, it’s earnest and awkward, but at the same time, strangely graceful.