To see or not to see: Frances Ha (2012)

By Lee Jia Ren (19J09) & Lin Jiawen (20J19)


This is the fourth of our seven-part series called To See Or Not To See, in which we review some of our favourite films that deserve revisiting, especially in a time when it's best for us to stay at home.


A film shot in black-and-white and set in New York probably isn’t something you would associate with the 2010s, but that’s exactly what 2012 film Frances Ha is about. This comedy-drama film follows the journey of 27-year-old struggling dancer Frances Ha and her dreams as she juggles between her responsibilities and relationships with others. While the entertaining film leaves most in peals of laughter, it also serves as a timely reminder of the little things in life that we should be grateful for. And here are some things we hope you gain greater gratitude for after watching the film (which you definitely should!)


Friendship.

This is going to sound typical, but yes, we’re talking about friendship. Frances stumbles through the carefree, liberating youthful ties that feel eternal until one day -- they aren’t. As she tries to find her place among her roommates, it is evident that she can’t seem to fit in, with conversations around the table flowing in various directions and the awkwardness that lingers after her attempts to joke. Yet in the end, Frances and her best friend Sophie find their way back to each other despite their drastically different paths in life, and everyone who’s made a difference in Frances’s life show up to watch her work. The film reflects the bittersweet moments with our best friends: at times, we drift apart because of commitments, distance, and relationships; other times, we get jealous of each other, even if we don’t show it. Sometimes, we meet people we may not have stayed close to, but they’ve all made us who we are today. In RV, friends come and go, what with the changes of classes, spontaneous events and more recently, the circuit breaker. For many of us, it’s the longest we’ve gone not seeing our friends in lessons or at lunch, which can strain friendships and make us feel a little lonely. But perhaps that is a small blessing, for we’ve learnt to cherish and appreciate our stronger bonds more. The film is a heartwarming reminder that while there may be ups and downs in our friendships, we should have faith that our friends always have our back.


Frances and her best friend Sophie


Dreams.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of homework and exams, have you given yourself time to dream? Frances of ‘Frances Ha’ is many things, but perhaps she is most memorable for her drive and passion, as she relentlessly pursues her dream of becoming a dancer. Despite her financial worries and the humiliating experience of being compared to her friend, she has never stopped dancing — at a party, across the streets, even as a reserve. There is something captivating about the way she takes all her troubles in stride, keeping a bright smile on her face throughout the film, that perhaps we can all learn from. Such courage to be open and embracing of your desires is rarely found, even in RV. There are many reasons (or excuses) for this, I think. Maybe you’ve never really had time or the push to truly consider where your true passions lie, or the first step just seems so overwhelmingly foreign. With home-based learning ending two months ago, I hope that many of us have taken the opportunity to find our dreams and honed our skills. Even if we didn’t, there is always time for us to find that dreamer in us. Let this be said: there is nothing wrong with choosing the path less travelled, and it is definitely not a choice easily made and persisted on.


Chasing your dreams


Yourself.

As cheesy as it sounds, don’t ever forget to give credit to the one who’s stuck through it all with you: yourself. Throughout the film, Frances never stops chasing her dreams of becoming a dancer, even though she falls a little short in the end. From working odd jobs to tolerating sardonic comments from others, Frances continues to try and reach her goal of becoming a professional dancer. Sounds familiar? Many of us probably feel the same way too, just that we all persevere in different ways. In the midst of our busy schedules, we sometimes forget to step back and thank ourselves for never giving up despite the struggles we face. By constantly challenging ourselves and pushing ourselves to our limits, we tend to neglect the amount of hard work we’ve channelled into chasing our dreams and achieving results, only focusing on the end product. Even if we haven’t achieved what we initially set out to, it’s important to still thank yourself for the effort you’ve put in. So before you beat yourself up over a less-than-ideal test grade or any lacklustre performance next time, maybe recall how hard you’ve worked and give yourself a pat on the back for your dedication and resilience instead.

Don’t forget to credit yourself!


You’re the one who’s got yourself to this point today; please don’t forget that.

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