This review spoils parts of the plot for Frances Ha
Frances Ha was a black and white indie movie that hit theaters in select cities in May 2013 to very positive reviews but not the best box office, it had an ideal per theater average on its opening weekend in Los Angeles and New York grossing $34,350 per theater amongst 4 theaters. After that it expanded to more and more cities but never found some good box office for an indie movie of its caliber. But it still stands as my favorite film thus far into 2013.
Frances Ha is about a 27 year old woman named Frances, portrayed brilliantly by Greta Gerwig, who is struggling to find her place and role in the world. Throughout the story of the film we see Frances being a professional dancer, traveling abroad, spending time at her alma mater college among other strange adventures she goes on along the way. What struck me about this movie is how relatable her character is for a 20-something like myself who had a plan for post college but it didn’t quite turn out the way I would’ve hoped. Other pieces of media have tried to portray characters in this situation, like the show “Girls” on HBO, but Frances just resonated so much more with me, she’s aloof, her best friend all but abandons her shortly into the film, leaving Frances completely lost in life without her companion by her side. That spoke volumes to me in ways I won’t explain in detail here but in short, I’ve been there too.
Frances resolves her issues in life by the end of the story, sort of. She doesn’t find happily ever after, she doesn’t find the love her life, she continues to call herself undateable even after getting her life somewhat together, and honestly, I prefer an ending like that, I don’t always want my stories tied up in a bow by the time the credits roll, I just want an idea of what’s to come for the characters I have sympathized with, and I don’t always need to need a sequel to see where else they go either. Frances Ha’s ending was just perfect enough to make happy and realize it’s going to be okay for Frances as well as for me with my similar life problems.
Now why didn’t countless other 20-somethings flock to the art house cinemas to see this movie and get the moral support this movie offers through its narrative and characters? Well it’s in black and white. Most of my generation sadly doesn’t want to see a black and white movie, when they can go see a vibrant and colorful movie that is all in their face via 3D. Okay maybe 3D isn’t as popular as I just said but the former details are true for the majority of kids born in the 80s and 90s. Some do have an appreciation for black and white films, and can look past it, but most cannot. Another reason people didn’t see it, no one heard about it, unless you knew one of the few (and proud) to have seen it, you didn’t hear about this film. Which is the distributor’s fault but for a small movie like this, they have to be conservative in how much money they spend on marketing a movie like this. Plus it’s an art house film, most people in general don’t see these movies unless you’re an avid movie-goer and/or an art house aficionado.
It was announced this week Criterion will be distributing the Blu-ray and DVD of this film, which makes me jump for joy because they are one of the best at Blu-ray authoring and special features. But its Criterion, so it won’t go on sale for much less than $20 after its release in November, it probably won’t be on Redbox. Its only hope for gaining a wider audience is that Criterion throws it on its channel on Hulu Plus and people discover it and tell people about it, and then repeat, which may happen, I don’t have Hulu Plus but for those that do, I will be highly recommending checking this out.
Those are my thoughts on Frances Ha and its lackluster success despite being a beautiful gem of a film almost no one saw. I very much hope this movie finds a bigger audience as its available to more and more people as time goes on.
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