‘Frances Ha’ and the importance of location

I first heard of Greta Gerwig when I saw No Strings Attached in theaters. Her character had those one-liners you wish you could insert into everyday life, subtly delivered yet balanced with just the right amount of humor.

Greta Gerwig at her finest in No Strings Attached.
Image courtesy of ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com.

Although I’ve still only seen a select few of her films, her credibility as an actress is established with the types of characters she chooses to portray. Let me introduce you to Frances Ha, a 27-year-old woman trying to make it as a dancer in New York City. She faces obstacles thrown her way that include the difficulty of paying rent and the distancing from her best friend as their life paths head in different directions.

I had been meaning to watch Frances Ha, and I finally got around to doing it today. The film was shot entirely in black and white, something I wasn’t expecting.

Director Noah Baumbach explains this decision by saying, “It’s about a moment in all of our lives: This late-20s time when we’re making a transition from young adulthood to adulthood. I think the black and white makes that idea both nostalgic and present” (washingtoncitypaper.com).

I was wary of the black and white style at first; I didn’t want it to turn me off to what I was hoping would be a well-crafted story. Thankfully, it didn’t. Instead I found myself paying more attention to the character development present in the film, something I most likely wouldn’t have done had the film been shot in color to distract me. As they say, less is more after all.

I especially liked the use of location to show Greta Gerwig’s Frances in different stages of growth during the film. We see Frances struggling to make it in New York City, spending Christmas with her family in Sacramento, California, and taking in Paris, France on a spontaneous trip.

Each setting influences her character as she transitions into full-fledged adulthood. Maybe that’s why they say it’s so important to travel. The different locations we find ourselves in provide us with the valuable insight we need to handle life’s abrupt changes.

Below are some of the places Frances lives and travels to throughout the movie. I can only hope I’ll fly on a whim one day to Paris. All images are from the film.

1. New York City

Frances running through Chinatown.
Image courtesy of littlewhitelies.co.uk
Leaning out the window of her New York City apartment.
Image courtesy of klymkiwfilmcorner.blogspot.com.
Dancing in front of a New York City fountain.
Image courtesy of inalonelyplaceencounterswithfilm.wordpress.com.

2. Sacramento, California

Frances going for a bike ride in her parents’ Sacramento neighborhood.
Image courtesy of http://www.criticsatlarge.ca.

3. Paris

Frances outside Cafe de Flore. I apologize for the image size as it is a screenshot. Image courtesy of netflix.com
Frances outside Cafe de Flore.
Image courtesy of netflix.com
Frances walking along the River Seine. Image courtesy of netflix.com
Frances walking along the River Seine.
Image courtesy of netflix.com

Thank you Frances Ha for showing me the importance of travel as I make life’s necessary transitions.


18 thoughts on “‘Frances Ha’ and the importance of location

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