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Greta Gerwig's real hometown, real parents part of 'Frances Ha's' charm

A delightful summer quirk can be found in the new comic drama “Frances Ha.” Shot in black and white and filled with nuance, the film is directed with great affection by Noah Baumbach ("The Squid and the Whale"), who wrote it with his star -- actress Greta Gerwig.

Frances is a few years past college and still trying to make her way in New York. She's already struggling to afford the apartment in trendy Brooklyn. Then her best friend and roommate Sophie (Mickey Sumner) starts thinking about moving in with her wealthy boyfriend Patch (Patrick Heusinger).

At the dance studio where she teaches kids, Frances dreams of being in the company. Instead she’s downsized in a particularly humiliating way.

A tax refund temporarily gives her bank account a boost, but not for long. Frances is on a downward spiral that is unrelenting. But in Gerwig’s hands, it becomes far more amusing than depressing, even when Frances reachest her lowest.

The comedy is both situational – nearly everything Frances tries turns out badly – and physical. Gerwig brings a kind of syncopated style to her movements and language, just a beat behind everything else around her, that completely charm.

It’s a slight story and Frances’ arc isn’t terribly involved and deep. But it’s freshly told and a great deal of fun watching her go from one apartment to the next as her finances decline.

During the stop off in Gerwig’s real hometown of Sacramento, her real parents Christine and Gordon step in to play Mom and Dad. It makes “Frances Ha” feel very much like a family affair.


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