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You know that best friend you almost want, but secretly wouldn’t let meet your parents? Inside Noah Baumbach’s framework of a typical “Brooklyn indie,” where vaguely recognizable 20-30-somethings hold inferior jobs and wonder where their lives are going, is a fresh take on the manic dream girl. In this film, not such a dream. Greta Gerwig’s Frances looks older than she is and acts younger. She bursts into play-fights with her friends on the sidewalk; she takes an impromptu weekend to Paris and charges it to a junk-mail credit card.
For all its familiar notes, Frances Ha captures that moment when we near adulthood and resist it. Baumbach and Gerwig, who co-writes and stars, call out every new apartment Frances lives in like a sad Craigslist travelogue. Her hopes are easily deflated: When she rushes home from Paris to make a Monday meeting with the head of the dance company, her boss admits she almost canceled. Paris isn’t great to Frances, either; the city has never seemed lonelier. We’re used to discomforting characters these days; as much as Baumbach wants to make the next black-and-white Manhattan, he can’t avoid the influence of Girls.