Astrology: Film: ‘Frances Ha’ (2013)

IFC Films

Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha is a tribute to both the magic that happens when love and work are well integrated in a person’s life, and the chaos that ensues when either or both of these elements are out of sync. Twenty-seven-year-old Frances (Greta Gerwig, who also co-wrote the script) is the poster child for anyone who’s ever bungled that equation.

As an apprentice at a dance company in New York City, Frances is hardly flush with cash. She dabbles in choreography, and has expectations of advancing in her profession. Her solace is her BFF, Sophie (Mickey Sumner), and they function as a unit. Platonic through and through, their relationship still retains the exuberance, intensity and affection that makes sleeping in the same bed the most natural thing in the world.

As Sophie’s relationship with her boyfriend becomes more serious, Frances loses her mooring. And, with her dance mentor lacking funds in her budget to pay her for additional projects, Frances’s financial situation becomes more dire. Survival and security issues, both ruled by Saturn, loom large. Can her friendship with Sophie remain as passionate and robust now that a guy is taking Sophie to another country? Will Frances manage the changing dimensions of her deepest relationship, as well as face the fact that her aspirations of becoming a dance professional are going nowhere?

The domain of Saturn – the reality principal – is self-mastery, an activity at which Frances has not excelled. It’s a no-nonsense black-and-white endeavor, and Baumbach’s black-and-white film only serves to underscore what’s at stake with Saturn the Teacher at the helm.

Traveling like a nomad from one neighborhood to the next, Frances’s lack of Saturnine stability – and her indecision about whether to accept a reliable and decently remunerative administrative job at the dance company – is painful to watch. Her vagabond ways, which even include a spontaneous trip to Paris, contrasts starkly with the discipline demanded by Saturn.

The movie’s ending is a pay-off to Frances’s earlier, glorious-but-premature dance-run through the streets of Manhattan set to David Bowie’s “Modern Love.” Saturn demands people earn their victories. Watching Frances figure it all out and become the master of her own life is as good as seeing her win.

Astrology Film Rating: ♄ (Saturn)

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