I didn’t really enjoy watching the movie “Frances Ha,” but I’ve thought a lot about it since. A blurb I read said it was a movie about being young in New York, but that’s not accurate. It’s a movie about being young and lost at sea. Frances is a moderately attractive, somewhat awkward 20-something who wants to be a professional dancer. Like most if not all of the young people who populate her life, she’s depending on her parents for money and (sometimes) for emotional support while at the same time wanting to keep them far away. The plot, if you can call it a plot, steers its way through random events–quirky, embarrassing, clueless and above all awkward. Frances wants friends very much, but she doesn’t know how negotiate friendship. Everybody in her world is on the make, open to anything at any moment yet at the same time unwilling to commit themselves to wanting anything. It brings back memory of junior high school, only these people don’t have braces and their voices aren’t changing.
I don’t know how accurate “Frances Ha” is in its depiction of young, affluent, urban society. I hope not at all. The movie isn’t negative, and it’s not making a point as far as I can see. I’m not sure whether others would see its depiction as horrifying, which I more or less do. To me, it is life at sea–not just for Frances, but as much or more for all her “friends.” They appear to be rooted in nothing, trying to make a life in a fishbowl, like a solitary beta puffing itself up for the mirror image of itself. They talk about sex but would be embarrassed to admit to passion. They say they love each other but they would be unable to say what they want from each other. They have career ambitions–art, publishing, dance, money–and are terrifically competitive but they deny that they really care about success or failure. It’s a shadow world.
So far I’ve failed to find any 20-somethings who have seen it. I would like to know how they perceive it. Is this their world? Do they find it attractive? How do they feel?