Frances (Gerwig) is in freefall. At the grand old age of 27, her hopes of becoming a professional dancer hang by a ballet pump. She’s broke, has no permanent abode, and BFF Sophie (a brilliantly brittle Mickey Sumner) is spending all her time with her square boyfriend. It’s a familiar tale, but such is the mellow fizz of the performances that it feels like we’re watching the first 20-something to have her dreams curdle in New York City. Frances Ha’s twist is it isn't a downer: when the Big Apple gives Frances lemons, she turns them to sweet, effervescent pop.
Gerwig seems to have the same effect on director Baumbach, who up until now had specialised in movies so breathtakingly caustic they should be watched from behind glass – or at least through fingers. Frances Ha trades in the same cringe comedy of The Squid and the Whale and Greenberg, but Gerwig’s deft screwball timing turns every disaster into a grace note. This may be a comedy of awkwardness, but rather than curl, your toes will tap.