Frances Ha (2012) is a US comedy drama shot in black and white. It is an independent film directed by Noah Baumbach and starring Greta Gerwig and Mickey Sumner as best friends Frances and Sophie.
The film tracks Frances, a young woman who is training to be a dancer in NY and living with her best friend Sophie. When Sophie’s boyfriend asks her to move in to a cool apartment in Tribecca, the lives of the two friends begin to drift apart, which Frances finds especially hard. She moves in to another apartment but struggles to work out what to do about her career and what she really wants in terms of friends, life and relationships.
Frances Ha was submitted to the BBFC without a category request – distributors can ask for a particular age rating if they wish.
Examiners noted that the key classification issues were language and sex references.
There are twenty nine uses of 'f***' and its derivatives. These lead to a straightforward 15 rating recommendation as only infrequent strong language is allowed at 12A. These are sprinkled throughout the work and are generally casual everyday uses of the word rather than aggressive or sexual.
There is also a use of very strong language as Frances is talking at a dinner party. A friend of Benji and Lev's, a minor female character, is talking to Frances about Sophie in a key emotional moment – Frances is jealous about the life Sophie is starting to lead in New York without her and feels left out. She refers to another woman, Lisa, (who has been seen out with Sophie), as a ‘c***’, but it isn’t an aggressive or directed use as Lisa isn’t there. The dialogue is used in the American derogatory sense but has a comical touch to it, and could therefore be contained by BBFC Guidelines at 15.
There are also some sex references as Frances talks to Sophie about their sex lives. They refer to different sexual positions and behaviour. There are also some moments where they compare their friendship to a ‘lesbian couple that doesn’t have sex any more’.
There are several scenes of cigarette smoking in the film, including lots of references to the main character smoking. This isn’t glamorised or aimed at children. There is also some drunken behaviour, including a scene where Frances appears to urinate in a subway station (there is no nudity or detail) and one where the women argue and one lightly shoves the other.
The BBFCinsight states Frances Ha contains strong language, one use of very strong language, and strong sex references. The film was selected for the National Youth Film Festival 2013.