‘I’m not a real person yet,’ blurts out Frances, who’s 27, lives in Brooklyn and has got that lurchy, what-the-hell-am-I-doing feeling about her life. Frances (Greta Gerwig) doesn’t have a proper job or a boyfriend (‘undateable’ is how she describes herself). What she does have is a best friend, Sophie (Mickey Sumner, Sting’s daughter). ‘We’re the same person with different hair’, says Frances. They live together, hang out together and fall asleep together in Sophie’s bed watching movies (there’s nothing sexual). But Sophie is outgrowing their friendship – and when she begins dating a banker and becomes a dinner-party-girl, she ditches Frances.
The movies are full of bromances, but we hardly ever see a decent film about friendships between women (when was the last? ‘Bridesmaids’?). This charming, drifty indie comedy, shot in gorgeous black and white, is a love story between Frances and Sophie. Like Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’ it feels totally honest. In your twenties you decide on the final version of you. Sophie is working on it; Frances is stuck in her crazy, clueless, can’t-pay-the-rent stage. She’s getting it all wrong but is sweetly cocky – a kooky clumsy cool girl in the tradition of Annie Hall.
The script, co-written by Gerwig and her boyfriend Noah Baumbach (who directs), is full of spiky-real one-liners – like this, when someone compares Frances to Sophie: ‘Are you older than her? You have an older face.’ You’ve got to love Gerwig for writing lines like that for herself. If you’ve not seen her in a film before, you will walk out of ‘Frances Ha’ having watched your new favourite actress.