Though brushed by Fame and bearing a translucent overlay of Manhattan and and its Parisian forebears, Frances Ha seems for the most part to have spilled out of Lena Dunham’s Girls-iverse, its female protagonist in an extended tragi-comic freefall toward the abyss of homelessness, of failure, of no longer being 20-something. Dialogue so dense it sounds drawn from a year living with a dictaphone is saved by editing, comic timing and star Greta Gerwig’s successful negotiation of the tightrope of charm.
In the end, freefalling Frances appears redeemed by a better understanding of her artistic ambitions, if not a lowering of her sights, but confronting the limits of friendship and taking advice from her elders seems to have at least as much to do with it. Frances’ journey is probably about getting over dependancy, but this capitulation to the parent world may be the core of what isn’t quite satisfying about the film. We don’t empathise with Frances and revel in her first success so much as feel relieved we don’t have to worry about her anymore.