Frances Ha

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Frances Ha Movie Poster Image
Smart, hilarious, mature look at an appealing scatterbrain.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 86 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Frances eventually gets herself together and follows her dream, but her moment of change isn't really the focus. Mostly viewers see her misadventures -- i.e. learning what not to do. But she never makes any serious mistakes, other than spending too much money, making social faux pas, and missing good opportunities.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Frances is a bit of a scatterbrain, and she makes many mistakes, but she's cheerful and never gives up. Plus, she never deliberately makes any bad choices; she just chooses unwisely sometimes. Eventually her optimism and gumption are shown to have paid off.


Minor arguing between friends from time to time.


No nudity or sex is shown, but sex is a regular topic of discussion; the characters think about it often. Sometimes the talk is fairly graphic.


Language isn't constant but is fairly strong. "F--k" is used more than a dozen times, and "s--t" is used several times. "C--t," "t-ts," "anal sex," "bitch," "damn," "douche," "Jesus," and "slut" are also used.


Various logos/brand names are glimpsed in the background, such as Bank of America, Belvedere vodka, etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink beer, whiskey, vodka, and other alcoholic beverages and smoke cigarettes in a background way, at home, at clubs, and at dinner parties. Occasionally a character overindulges in alcohol, with results played for humor. There's a running gag about keeping one foot on the floor to prevent "the spins."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Frances Ha is a sophisticated, black-and-white comedy with some romantic subplots. It's very dialogue and character-based, with a wonderfully cheerful attitude; good things happen to good people, but only after they fail a few times. The biggest issue is language, which is strong and includes "f--k" and "s--t." Sex is also a frequent (and sometimes graphic) topic of discussion, though no nudity or sex acts are actually shown. Characters drink and smoke in a social, background way. There's occasional overindulgence, with effects that are played for laughs. Since the story is about twentysomethings, only older teens may actually be interested.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bycami098 August 25, 2020

i had high expectations

i thought i would really like this movie, i generally like noah baumbach’s writing. it’s a pretty boring movie in my opinion, but not in the uneventful yet even... Continue reading
Adult Written byBestPicture1996 April 14, 2014

Frances dances, but is she happy?

Baumbach has a very distinct style of writing: crisp, fast-paced with enough bluntness to want to pause the film and rewind what the actors just said to make su... Continue reading
Written byAnonymous January 29, 2021

Very enjoyable movie with likable characters

Some infrequent talks about sex (no sex actually shown) and drinking, so I rated it 11+. It honestly isn't that bad.
Teen, 13 years old Written byJoibird February 17, 2018

What's the story?

Twentysomething Frances (Greta Gerwig) has a great life living in New York with her BFF roommate, Sophie (Mickey Sumner) -- until Sophie decides to move out. Frances tries to keep her chin up as she looks for a new place to stay, going through an assortment of quirky roommates. She doesn't have much money, but she's hoping that her apprenticeship with a dance company will lead to a job on the Christmas play. Meanwhile, her misadventures include some faux pas at dinner parties, some unwise credit card expenditures, and plenty of witty observances. Will good things ever happen for Frances?

Is it any good?

Packed with a new kind of appealing, cheerful wit, this is writer/director Noah Baumbach's most purely enjoyable movie. Baumbach is already an expert in the New York artist/intellectual lifestyle, but writing for the first time with his star (and real-life girlfriend) Gerwig, he comes up with his most satisfying, cohesive movie since The Squid and the Whale.

The style in FRANCES HA seems simple, but it's really quite intricate and complex. It's made up of dozens of spot-on lines of dialogue spoken in rhythmic little scenes. Sometimes the scenes last just seconds, and sometimes much longer. Nothing much except the passing of time connects these scenes; there's no real plot. The glorious black-and-white cinematography and choice of music keep things feeling hopeful and romantic, even when things are at their lowest. This is a truly wonderful movie, recalling Woody Allen at his best. (It has also been compared to the HBO series Girls, although it's much less edgy/graphic than that show.)

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether Frances is a role model. What are her positive attributes? Is she smart? Responsible? Brave? What chances does she take? What choices does she make?

  • What does Frances learn over the course of the story? How does she earn her happy ending?

  • Why do you think the characters tend to drink so much? What's the appeal for them? Are the consequences realistic?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love strong female characters

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