I don’t exactly know how it came about, but suddenly our beloved Generation Y is the newest cultural fad. I recently ventured to Frances Ha, the latest in this influx of discourse surrounding the horror/terror/awkward that is being in your twenties and having no idea what comes next.
I understand that this isn’t a feeling shared by all, however the cultural juggernaut that is Girls says a lot about the interest in the area. It’s my understanding that the people who are interested in these kinds of films/television shows are split into two groups. 1. Actual twenty-somethings who relate to these characters to the point of genuine fear, and 2. People who look into this universe from the outside, fascinated at the habits and behaviors of these strange creatures.
Frances Ha was described to me as ‘a 90-minute episode of Girls’ by Rotten Tomatoes troller and self-proclaimed ‘21st century Roger Ebert’, Jules O’Donnell. But I’ll elaborate a little more for you: Frances Halladay (played charismatically by the beautiful Greta Gerwig) is a 27-year-old dancer who is by all accounts not an adult yet. She spends most of the film making poor choices and cringe-worthy social decisions, yet despite all of this, Frances Ha is unquestionably uplifting. So, yeah, it’s kind of like a 90-minute episode of Girls, as was perceptively and crucially pointed out by the not-quite-20, enigmatic, bull-wrestling, cultural juggernaut/KanyeWestian Bob Sayed.
However, what struck me about Frances, and what now strikes me about Girls, is the central love story. It’s not between a man and a woman; it isn’t ‘romantic’ in the classical sense. It’s between friends. It’s between best friends (female, at this point in time, but who knows what is to come in the future). Frances Ha opens, black and white and stunning, instantly paying homage to Woody Allen and his love-letter to his favourite city Manhattan (1979). However, here, it isn’t the city Frances is writing a love letter to – it’s Sophie. There are shots of Sophie and Frances play-fighting in the park, running down the streets, smoking out the window, discussing whether or not they would eat a puppy. These shots are comparable to that which you would be shown in a romantic comedy. It’s an image of a couple in love. Most of the film deals with Frances struggling to handle Sophie and her desire to grow up – something Frances is not quite ready to do – and the notion of Sophie doing this without her, symbolically and literally leaving Frances behind, is terrifying.
The importance placed on the Marnie/Hannah relationship in Girls is key. Yeah, we like Adam, and Charlie is okay, but there is nothing more relatable than watching the relationship of two people who love each other unconditionally come apart at the seams.
In Frances Ha, Frances talks about what she wants out of a relationship. She says that what she really wants is to be at a party, and look around the room, and catch the eye of your person, not because you’re possessive, but just because it happens, and they look at you, and you both smile. You’re in different conversations, and you’re far apart, but you know that they are your person in this world. Being in that relationship is like existing in another dimension within this one. Pop culture has lead us to believe that this person should be someone of romantic interest, however, new discourses surrounding modern women suggest that this might not have to be the case. It takes Frances a moment to realize that perhaps this look doesn’t have to be shared with a man, and eventually, upon sharing this look with Sophie, it becomes clear to her that perhaps the real love of your life is your best friend. That perhaps this is the most important relationship in your life. And that’s probably okay. In fact, it’s pretty romantic.