Noah Baumbach’s Incidental Nod to Leos Carax

By now we’ve all fallen in love with the charmingly relatable Frances Ha, which has marked a joyful rejuvenation to director Noah Baumbach’s filmmaking. Heavily penetrated with the voice of its star and co-writer Greta Gerwig, the film follows an everyday journey of self-discovery born from one woman’s haze of existential ennui. Speaking to the seemingly mundane but personally victorious character arcs in his films, Baumbach told me:

I’m interested in how psychology becomes behavior. Takes Frances. What she accomplishes at the end of the movie, out of context, is relatively minor in that she takes a desk job and she finds an apartment. But in the context of the movie, it’s kind of heroic. And, to some degree, it’s always trying to find the context for these things, these little movements we make in life. Like the end of Greenberg, where he goes and picks her up at the hospital, this sort of little thing for these characters means a lot. I’m always thinking of those things as cinematic and big and I see no reason why they shouldn’t be.
And for all his influence, in Truffaut, Godard and the French New Wave filmmakers who inspired his love for storytelling and crafting a cinematic moment, there’s another filmmaker who he is less likely to point out but has audiences noticing a definite resemblance in one scene in particular. 
 
The Seventh Art points out that in article on Frances Ha from the Free Press Houston, they mention Baumbach’s use of David Bowie’s "Modern Love" that swirls around as we’re given a magical long tracking shot of France dancing down the street. And for those who have seen brilliant French director Leos Carax’s Mauvais Sang, you’ll recall that Denis Lavant’s character in the film does something quite similar. So speaking to the press, Baumbach says: 
I’m familiar with the film and scene you’re talking about…I hadn’t intended to use that particular song, yet when we were editing the film we tried a few songs with that sequence. The thing is, “Modern Love” is the perfect song to jog to, so yes, it became something of an homage.
And within that idea of motion, Carax once stressed to me that cinema-goers:
 ….still love to watch human bodies, you also like to watch landscapes or things we’ve created: buildings, cigarettes, guns, cars, but mostly we love to watch human beings and that’s action. We love to watch people walking, running, and fucking.
 So check out the scene from Mauvais Sang below if you haven’t before, and make sure you head to IFC center to enjoy Frances Ha if you’ve yet to do so. Also, check out our interview with Greta and Mickey Sumner to learn more about the film’s wonderful love story of friendship.
 

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