Guest Post: Frances Ha


My sister Robin shares my excellent taste in films (not biased at all). Here’s another guest post, this time on Frances Ha, one of my favourite films of last year.

I finally got around to watching Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha (2012) yesterday, and there’s a good possibility that it will become one of my favourite films. Co-written by Greta Gerwig (who also stars in the titular role), it is a character study spanning a few years in her twenty-something life, and is beautifully shot in black and white in New York City. While the setting and aesthetic have led to obvious comparisons to Woody Allen’s Manhattan and Annie Hall, the characterisation and themes are more like Lena Dunham’s TV show Girls.

ImageAs a character, Frances is charming, charismatic, and infinitely relatable. She’s permanently broke, arguably directionless, all her relationships are the vague and undefined type, and she’s humourously branded by her friends as ‘undateable’. From her ill-fated attempts to ‘be proactive’ about her life, to her unhappy acceptance of the $3 surcharge on the cash machine, and the way she dresses, Frances is a real, authentic person. I often feel the characters on Girls flaws and self-involved dilemmas are exaggerated for comedic effect and shock value (the warehouse party, Jessa’s rehab and Hanna’s regular nudity and sex scenes (particularly in episode 3:10) spring to mind), but Frances’ journey plays out in a more believable, endearing and intimate way. I’d previously only seen Greta Gerwig in Woody Allen’s (frankly terrible) To Rome With Love, but now I have the kind of love and admiration for her that I’ll probably go and watch all of her films in the next two days.

ImageThe fashion of Frances Ha is not something that immediately jumps out at you, but in a style that is typical of the film, it is subtle and highly effective. Frances is a dancer, so her main staple is black three-quarter length leggings (the kind that sound so wrong but feel so right). She often layers them with ditsy floral tea dresses, undoubtedly thrifted, but her look seems unassuming and natural rather than the typically self-aware, New York-hipster look. The 90s influence on her style is also seen in her nonchalant button up shirts (haphazardly worn oversized or tied around her waist), turtle necks, sheepskin leather bomber jacket and backpack. These last two pieces are seen in almost every outfit, which further adds to the authenticity of Frances Ha; broke 27 year olds constantly moving apartments in New York don’t own a tonne of clothes. She’s always seen in flats or pumps, as she spends half the movie dancing maniacally or running around the city.

On Frances Ha‘s costuming, Gerwig commented ‘I think audiences absorb stuff but don’t actually think about it. At the end of the movie, she’s not carrying a backpack anymore; she’s wearing a tote. And her hair is down, and she has glasses, which she never had before. It’s kind of a growing up thing, where you take care of yourself. She’s not totally together yet, but she’s way more together than she was in the beginning of the movie.’ This observation is at the essence of Frances Ha, an honest, bittersweet and beautiful coming-of-age story.

ImageI was inspired by Frances’ style to wear my favourite vintage floral tea dress (which sadly shrinks every time I wash it), with cropped black leggings, and a shearling jacket. Round sunglasses, shirts tied around your waist, backpacks and pumps with dresses are all inherently 90s, but I have a feeling this is how I’m going to be dressing all summer.

Click here to read Robin’s full post.

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