Telluride 2012: Greta Gerwig Sheds Tears of Joy at World Premiere of Noah Baumbach's 'Frances Ha'
The director's most buoyant movie yet wows the festival crowd at its debut.
After the soundtrack failed twice and the film had to start a third time at today's Telluride Film Festival screening of Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha, the filmmaker joked, "How was everyone else's world premiere?" But the premiere of Baumbach's funny, touching black-and-white drama about a 27-year-old apprentice dancer, played by Greta Gerwig, coming of age in New York could not have played better.
All the authentically awkward comic lines cowritten by Baumbach and Gerwig got solid laughs, and a few audience members were even in tears at the end of the sometimes emotionally-charged film -- as was Gerwig herself. "I'm gonna start crying again if I talk about it," she said during the Q&A after the screening. "It's the altitude -- it makes you very teary. I've never had a happier experience making anything."
Baumbach, who came off as guardedly sardonic at the Sundance premiere of his 2005 film The Squid and the Whale, seemed almost bubbly (in a sardonic way, of course) while talking about his latest collaboration with Gerwig, who earned Independent Spirit and Gotham Award nominations for her breakout performance in his 2010 Greenberg. He said Frances Ha, which counts Scott Rudin among its producers, is "the closest thing I've done where the amorphous thing in my head [is realized] in the film," and that he wanted it to be "like something Paul McCartney would make in his basement...buoyant, like a pop song you want to hear again." It is a film that may inspire repeat viewing and should attrack distributor interest. And it is likely to enhance awards prospects for Gerwig, Baumbach, who is part of a loosey-goosey yet precise ensemble including Mickey Sumner (daughter of Sting) and Adam Driver in a role much nicer than the character he plays on HBO's Girls.
Baumbach told the audience he wanted "to do it in that hand-made way," but despite the film's spontaneous, raffish energy, it is also Baumbach's most formally ambitious work. "The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding had been very hand-held, and I got interested in a more formal way of shooting, and only moving the camera when it's motivated by something the actor was doing," he explained. Frances Ha is rooted in Baumbach's study of the great black-and-white films about New York and is also fresh, new, and Baumbachian.
In the film, Gerwig's Frances character says, after one of many flagrantly irresponsible mistakes, "I'm sorry, I'm not a real person yet." But judging from the applause and the the murmurs of approval from festgoers exiting the screening, Frances is the genuine article.