Frances Ha + Bridget Jones’s Diary

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Double feature: When “Frances Ha” came out, many reviewers hung their claims for its distinction on the fact that its heroine was a young woman, and yet its narrative had essentially nothing to do with that young woman’s love life. Presumably, this separated it from the pile of marriage-plot driven romantic comedies with women in the lead, a pile in which “Bridget Jones’s Diary” stands honorably near the top.

But how credible is that differentiation? It turns out that even though “Frances Ha” doesn’t hinge on its protagonist’s romance, its raison d’etre is still coupling: its entire narrative is set into motion by the deepening coupledom of Frances’ best friend. Sure, Bridget’s life lurches forward through romantic misadventures, but through family and work ones as well. And the protagonists of these two films have a lot in common. Both are endearingly fumbling, sweetly awkward, unpretentious urbanites lit with an inner sunshine that allows us to cringe for their faux pas without ever having to seriously worry about their long-term welfare.  Nice to see other people, albeit fictional ones, still trying to figure things out. For a marathon: “Frances Ha” also serves as a primer on makeshift living arrangements in overcrowded, overpriced cities. For more on that topic, check out “The More the Merrier,” a film proving that not much has changed in that arena in the seven (!) decades since it was made. (Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “anhlanlan” and “-Merce-” at Flickr)

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