At my first opportunity I intend to see Noam Baumbach’s new film, “Frances Ha”. And not just because I was a big supporter of 2010’s perceptive “Greenberg”, 2007’s underrated “Margot at the Wedding” and 2005’s critically lauded “The Squid and the Whale”. He’s a wonderful writer/director—and he is also the now ex-husband of actress Jennifer Jason Leigh. I adore Jennifer Jason Leigh, and I think it’s a travesty that she’s never been nominated for an Oscar. She is an uncommonly brave and meticulous performer. She’s been an “It” girl for me for a long time. JJL was in her then-husband’s “Greenberg” in 2010, and it was one of my favorite films of that year. But the lead female role of that film was the eventual object of star Ben Stiller’s affections, and she’s also front and center for this month’s “Frances Ha”. She’s rapidly becoming an “It” girl for me too…and her name is Greta Gerwig.
Exactly what is “It”? Well, I think the term has gotten a bit looser since the label became famous in the 1920’s as a description of actress/sex symbol Clara Bow. Ms. Bow had “It” for millions of moviegoers across America, and she was a gigantic silent film star because of “It”(appearing in a 1927 feature titled “It” didn’t hurt in cementing the moniker, either). I’m not certain exactly what Greta Gerwig has…but it is something palpable. And I’m calling it “It”. I noticed her first in 2009’s superb “The House of the Devil”. Next, it really blossomed in the aforementioned “Greenberg”, and she continued to be an utter delight in last year’s “Damsels in Distress”. She’s not classically beautiful, and her acting style is a quirky, off-center thing. But something about her is so undeniably appealing. I don’t know what it is with her…but I want more.
Can Greta Gerwig carry “Frances Ha” all by herself? I think she can…but that won’t necessarily translate into big waves at the box office. But Greta’s “It” has already charmed the majority of critics, and that’s going to be enough for me. Ms. Gerwig also co-wrote the screenplay with Mr. Baumbach for “Frances Ha”, which seems to confirm that there’s a lot more going on than just her outright adorableness. Just take a look at the above trailer for the film, and maybe you’ll feel “It” too. Expect my review of “Frances Ha” before the month is out.