Girls Talk

“Frances Ha” has been getting mostly great reviews. Packed theatre for a 3 o’clock showing. I couldn’t warm up to Frances until the last 20 minutes of the movie. She was too reminiscent of Hannah (Girls) or Sheila Heti (How Should a Person Be?), although unlike Hannah or Sheila, Frances had an innocent quality, sort of female Charlie Chaplin in New York. Two moments redeemed the movie for me: the scenes with her parents, marking that funny territory between adolescence and adulthood – visiting one’s parents, but no longer belonging to them. And then the scene at the end with the dance performance, where she is actually doing something rather than talking about it. I wonder what kinds of roles Greta Gerwig will play when she is older. Will she able to transcend the Frances or Lola character and bring something new to an older version of herself.

For me, the best line in “Frances Ha” was a one word assessment of Frances: “undateable”. Not really, but so true how that applies to the quirky ones, the ones that require work to be with.

I grew up in a university world of comparison and contrast, so I thought of “Fill the Void” when I was leaving the Frances Ha screening. “Fill the Void” is an interesting glimpse of the ultra Orthodox community in Israel. Shira is 18, on the verge of marriage, content within her community, closed off from the secular world. There is a sort of certainty and comfort in the rituals and customs of a deeply religious, self-contained world. Women are shown as powerful within a separate sphere, but one that influences the men in subtle ways. Shira has a choice, albeit within some boundaries. You can see her on the verge of adulthood, very different from Frances. Not sure what to make of the end of the film. I think the individual viewer has to make up her or his mind what it means.

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