Finding Your Person in Frances Ha

It’s strange how certain terms and phrases change and adapt as we got older. I don’t remember the first time I heard someone refer to another person as “my person,” but I’m almost positive that it was meant to refer to their romantic partner. And that’s how I always took it and even used it for a long time. It’s only been recently that I’ve started to grasp what it really means to be someone’s person, or to be greedy, to have multiple persons.  It wasn’t until the relationship found in Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha that I started to understand – but it began a long process to realize what it truly means.

Frances Ha stars Greta Gerwig (who also co-wrote the film) in the titular role and Mickey Summer as Frances’ best friend Sophie. The two met in college and have been best friends since. They live together in Brooklyn and everything is lovely. The way they almost complete and complement each other. Sophie is about to move from Brooklyn to Tribeca, which unfortunately is out of Frances’ budget.  And thus, the two need to separate. Frances then spends time bouncing from house to house, friends of friends looking for places to live and crash.

Frances Ha is one of those films that I’ve often revisited for many reasons. For the incredible David Bowie needle drop, for Sam Levy’s black and white cinematography, for the brilliant script and performances, but mostly for the acceptance of being lost. In so many ways, in our twenties, so many of us get lost. In a world where it’s hard for creatives to find careers in their choice of field, we often find ourselves searching for purpose. Going to school for something that will pay well, just to drop out for sanity reasons. As Frances looks for meaning and comfort, she runs into Sophie and always thinks of her, and talks about her. In a world without stability, Sophie was it.

I’ve spent many years looking for this person. I’ve gotten lucky to think that I found a few people that could fit in this description. I want to talk about the friendships, the platonic friendships that rarely get a focus on it. But looking at Frances Ha, I realized the film is absolutely a romance film – where the couple at the heart of the film is Frances and Sophie. 

“It’s that thing when you’re with someone, and you love them and they know it, and they love you and you know it… but it’s a party… and you’re both talking to other people, and you’re laughing and shining… and you look across the room and catch each other’s eyes… but – but not because you’re possessive, or it’s precisely sexual… but because… that is your person in this life. And it’s funny and sad, but only because this life will end, and it’s this secret world that exists right there in public, unnoticed, that no one else knows about. It’s sort of like how they say that other dimensions exist all around us, but we don’t have the ability to perceive them. That’s – That’s what I want out of a relationship. Or just life, I guess.”

I’ve always thought about this moment, being at a get together, and making eyes across the room for a moment and knowing precisely what Greta’s great monologue is referring to, and then, it happened. Sadly not at a party, but in a group chat. We separately said something that we only know ourselves and as the conversations continued, we in our rooms and own homes, left the other smiling. As we continued to watch our horror film of the night, we had a side conversation, but my mind went to this film and the final scene. When Sophie and Frances are celebrating her dance showcase, and for a second, look at each other. In this single moment, it’s the things that are left unsaid between each other that speak louder than most of the film, because it’s what Frances has been looking for in relationships, or in life, a moment that is dedicated to her and her person alone. 

I think there are other great films that are about friendships, even ones that came out recently like Booksmart – but they don’t treat the friendships like the true and real romance that they can be. How for some, the true love in their life isn’t a husband or a wife, but it’s the friends they meet along the way. Over the past year, so many of us feel so alone, because we can’t see and hang out with our friends. I’m looking forward to more stories about people not needing romantic love but cherishing the platonic loves that are their true love. These are the things that I look forward to in life, I guess.