I was thinking about Noah Baumbach‘s Frances Ha, which is expected at Telluride and booked for Toronto, and wondering what’s up with the last name. Greta Gerwig is the star and co-writer (with Baumbach) of this 86-minute monochrome film, and I’ve spoken with Gerwig a couple of times and realized she’s definitely the spirited type. The synopsis says Frances Ha is about her character living an up-and-down New York life “with unaccountable joy and lightness” so the last name alludes to a happy state of mind or she has an Asian stepfather.
Greta Gerwig in Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha
A friend writes that “the explanation of the title, which doesn’t come until the very last scene, is one of the loveliest surprises in the movie. Hopefully no one will spoil it for you.”
Either way Frances Ha is a title that says “we’re not coming to you — you have to come to us.” Hinterland types in Kansas, Georgia, Utah, Maine, southern New Jersey, Oklahoma and South Dakota are going to glance at the title and go “…the fuck?” I imagine a fair number of big-city types will presume it’s about an Asian girl. 90% of the people out there will think that…c’mon.
I asked a publicist connected with the film to give me a hint and she said “it’s explained in the film.” You mean the meaning of “Ha” isn’t deliberately hidden by Baumbach with no clues at all? “When you watch the movie you will find out why that is the title,” she added. “I’m not trying to be cryptic but when you see it you will know!” It’s totally okay with me if Gerwig does in fact play the stepdaughter of a guy who runs an Asian take-out truck.
Indiewire‘s Edward Davis quotes Gerwig saying the following: “[It’s] a love story about girls. It’s a girl who’s in love with her best friend, but not sexually. It’s sort of that moment when you realize, ‘Oh, so we won’t all move in together,’ and you’re going to move on with your life.’ I’m really proud of it. I think it’s really good.”
Baumbach and Gerwig are entwined, so to speak. They made Greenberg together in ’09. Baumbach got divorced from Jennifer Jason Leigh in 2010. He and Gerwig have allegedly been happening for the better part of two years.