NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Evonne.
The movie is in black and white. It starts out with a montage of Frances (Greta Gerwig) and Sophie (Mickey Sumner) play fighting in a park, where they are fending off each other like small children playfully slapping at each other, they run around central park, eating lunch by the fountain, dancing in the park, putting an extra hat down for street performers. They live together as roommates, both sitting on window sills, smoking and talking to one another from their windows. They watch a movie in the same bed via a laptop. Frances notices Sophie is asleep. She closes the laptop and goes to leave. Sophie tells her to stay, sleep in my bed. Just take your socks off.
Frances is at her boyfriend Dan’s apartment. He invites Sophie to move in with him. She says she wants to but can’t. She still has 3 months on the lease with Sophie. Sophie would be mad if she broke the lease and they will probably sign another one when this one is finished. Dan says that their relationship has not been working for a while. She asks if they are breaking up. He says no, I want you to move in with me.
Frances gets a phone call. It’s Sophie. Frances is much more animated talking to Sophie. Sophie is at a party, hanging out with a couple friends and is drunk. She wants them to come to the party. Frances says ‘I love you’ and hangs up. Again, Dan comments that the relationship has not been good for a while.
Dan and Frances arrive at the party, but move into different rooms to talk with people. Frances spends most of the time talking to a guy in a hat leaning over her. She tells him she is a dancer. She clarifies that she is an understudy, but that she has always loved to dance. She also tells him that Sophie is her best friend and that she loves her.
Back at the apartment, Sophie and Frances get ready for bed. They joke about their boyfriends and make fun of them. Frances tells Sophie that she broke up with Dan as he wanted her to move in with him. Sophie says that Frances could have moved in with him. Frances says she thought Sophie would get mad, and she prefers to live with Sophie. While they are lounging on the bed, Sophie gets a text message that Lev (the guy with the hat) wants to have Frances’ phone number. Frances says to go ahead and give it to him. Sophie reminds Frances that she just broke up with Dan. Frances says give it to him anyway. He immediately sends her a text message.
Next scene, Sophie tells Frances that she is going to move in with Lisa, another friend from college. She always dreamed of living in this nicer NY suburb. Frances is confused. She thought they were going to renew the lease. She tells Sophie that she broke up with Dan because of her. Frances gets a little angry as Sophie knows she cannot afford that neighborhood, and also doesn’t like Lisa.
Next scene shows Frances practicing alone in the dance studio. The instructor, Colleen, arrives, and Frances follows her into the office. Colleen is friendly, but very busy. Frances asks if there are any extra classes she can help teach. Colleen tells Frances that they won’t be able to give her any more hours but that they can probably use her again for the Christmas Show.
Next scene shows Frances filling a pot with water to make tea. The apartment is barren. Sophie has moved out, and all the furniture and kitchen items were hers. Frances burns her hand trying to pour the hot water and calls Sophie to complain that the teapot was purchased together, and Sophie needs to return it or buy her a new one.
Frances opens her mailbox, and finds the sole envelope contains a check back from the government. As soon as she steps out of the Bank from depositing the check, she calls Lev and invites him out for dinner.
Frances tries to treat Lev for dinner. When the bill comes, Frances insists on paying since she got the check. Her credit card gets denied. She insists she can just run to an ATM. She immediately runs out the restaurant to find an ATM. She runs quite a ways to finally get to the ATM. On the way back, she trips. The restaurant it is almost empty when she returns. Lev asks where she went. She starts to tell him about how far she ran to find the ATM when he notices she is bleeding. She immediately bolts from the table again, saying she’ll be right back as she runs to get something for her cut.
Next scene shows Lev putting a band-aid on her elbow. They are now at his apartment, and he asks if she wants to see his room. In his room, he tries to make a move on her, and she jokingly deflects it. His roommate Benji arrives home with more people, so they join the group in the living room. The guys mention that one of their roommates is moving out. As she is leaving, she pops her head back in to asks them if the roommate is really moving out.
Next scene shows Frances running home from work. She now lives with Benji and Lev.
Lev is leaving to go out, and asks Frances for the rent money. He quotes 1250, and she say no it’s 950. She reminds him that she will have more when she does the Christmas Show but right now all she can afford is 950. She asks if that is still ok. That she can pay more money after the Christmas Show. Lev is ok with that.
He leaves and Benji asks if she wants to go to the movies. She says she slept all day and thinks she should do something productive. Next scene is Frances and Benji watching a movie at home together. Lev returns home with a date and asks her if she wants to see his room.
Lev’s date stayed over for breakfast the next morning. The woman knows Sophie. Frances says that Sophie is the other ‘me’. The woman says she has heard of Frances. So you are ‘that’ friend. The girl tells Frances that Sophie got engaged with Patch.
Next scene shows Sophie getting a call from Frances at the office. Sophie didn’t tell Frances about the engagement as she knows Frances doesn’t like Patch. Frances tells Sophie that everything is going well, that she’s living with Lev & Benji and that she might get more work with the Christmas Show. Later Sophie comes by to see Frances’ apartment, so they sort of make up as friends.
Next scene is a modern dance performance on a small stage. Frances is an understudy/assistant for the performance. During the performance Frances doesn’t dance. She just stands on the left side of the stage behind the curtains. After the performance, Colleen tells Frances that they won’t be able to use her for the Christmas Show.
Sophie and Patch chat with her after the show. They announce that they are spending Christmas in the Galapagos Islands and are leaving in the morning. Sophie and Patch are acting very animated and goofy together. Frances is jealous. At a bar after the show, Frances tells the waitress to bring a whole bottle of vodka and all the stuff that goes with it. She tells Patch that he can pay for it and then demands that Sophie to come with her to the bathrooms. In the restroom, Frances finally gets angry with Sophie. Sophie refuses to have that conversation with Frances, and she then goes back to the table where Patch is waiting. Sophie tells Patch to get up as they are going to go. Frances commands them to sit down, and says that she is going to go. That she is also going on a trip. She then takes the whole bottle of vodka and strides out of the bar.
Frances returns to the apartment to start to pack for her trip. She is drunk from the vodka. She tells Benji that she can no longer afford the apartment as she won’t be in the Christmas Show.
There is a montage of her visit to Sacramento, small town points of interest, family gatherings, laughing, talking, food, and then riding back up the escalator waving goodbye to her parents. She has told everyone that everything is great back in NY. She is dancing, she has an apartment, and life is good. She gets a nice affirmation from her mom.
Back to NY, she waits outside the dance studio for a friend, and asks if she can crash at her place for a few weeks. Frances says she has a meeting with the Colleen next Monday. She asks this friend if she would like to ‘play fight’ (like the start of the film with Sophie), but the friend is not interested. Frances tries two more times to ‘play fight’ and it becomes very awkward. Frances then goes back to thanking her for letting her stay at her place for a while.
Sophie has tagged along to a small dinner party. A couple just came back from Paris where they have an apartment that rarely gets used. If anyone ever goes to Paris, they would be happy to let them use it. Frances talks about her friend Abby who lives in Paris. Someone tries to pour Frances some wine. She puts her hand over her glass, and says she’s trying not to drink. At the dinner, someone knows Patch, and that he just was given an opportunity to move to Japan. Patch is leaving in two weeks. Frances is sure Sophie won’t go with him. The person confirms Sophie has quit her job and will be going with Patch. Frances picks up the bottle of wine and pours.
Frances talks about what she is really looking for in a relationship. Someone that you can see each other across the room, like at a party, and your eyes are talking to each other, and no one else can see or matters. It’s like you are on a different dimension and it’s really special.
As Frances says goodbye to the party hosts, she mentions that she is going to Paris soon. That weekend,in fact. One of the party guests awkwardly says he will get her the apartment logistics.
Next montage is Frances on the airplane, arriving in Paris, finding the apartment and the key under the front mat. She has jet lag and sleeps most the first day. She leaves a couple messages for Abby. She keeps checking her phone, but no reply from Abby. She returns to NY. In the taxi home, she gets a voice message from Abby (in Paris) that she just got the messages, so great that Frances is in Paris, and invites her for dinner that night as they are having a party and there is a cool single guy for her to meet.
Frances meets with Colleen. Colleen asks Frances if she’d be interested in working the office, doing admin work. It’s not much, but it would be enough to cover rent and expenses while Frances figures out what she is going to do. Frances states that she is a dancer. Colleen says everyone has dreams of being a star. Colleen says we all of dreams, but we also need to be realistic. She asks if Frances has thought about choreography. Colleen has always enjoyed seeing Frances‘s work. It’s really special.
That evening, Frances bumps into Benji and is introduced to his new girlfriend. He’s a little wistful and appears to still have a crush on Frances. They are going to a party and invite Frances, but she turns it down.
Frances is back at her college in the countryside, helping out with summer programs. Wearing ‘Ask Me’ t-shirts, she and another student are manning an information table on safe sex. Frances tells the other student there that she volunteered to come back and help. She has free room and board working as an RA in the dorms, and helping with catering. The other student keeps trying to put a positive spin on Frances being there, but Frances acknowledges that she has no job or money, and she is out there to figure out what she’s going to do next.
Next scene the head waiter is prepping the staff for an important fund raiser. He tells Frances that she needs to keep an eye on their main guest a woman with dark hair. Frances keeps following the dark haired woman around with a wine bottle. As the dark haired woman hits on a young male student, Frances refreshes the wine glass.
Frances hears Sophie arguing with Patch in an alcove. Sophie is at the fundraiser and is drunk. Frances hides behind other guests with her wine bottle so that Sophie doesn’t see her. Sophie calls Patch her ex-fiance. As Sophie is starting to make a scene, Frances makes herself known. She and Sophie step outside to talk. They make up as friends.
Frances gets a ride back to her dorm. Patch is driving and Sophie is very drunk in the front seat creating a scene. As they drop Frances off at the dorm, Sophie claims the Frances doesn’t like Patch. Frances leans down, looks at Patch directly thru the passenger window and calmly says. I do like you Patch.
Frances awakens hearing someone tapping on her dorm door. Next Sophie is sitting on France’s dorm bed wearing the ‘Ask Me’ t-shirt. She’s drunk, rants about how she hates living in Japan and throws up in the waste basket. Frances has her sleep on the outside of the bed in case she throws up and she gives her Benji’s advice to keep a foot on the floor to stop the spins. Sophie asks her to take off her socks. Sophie sneaks out the next morning leaving a note, thanking Frances for being really nice to her. The car is already driving away when Frances runs out of the dorm calling after Sophie.
Next scene shows Frances working at a desk in the dance studio office. On the phone, she confirms an appointment. She arrives at the theater stage, and choreographs a dance with students.
At the live performance, Frances works the music and lights while the students dance to her choreography. Sophie, Patch, Benji, Lev and Colleen are all in the audience.
After the show, Frances and Benji talk and both admit they are both available, not dating any one.
Colleen comes up to give Frances praise on the dance choreography. While listening to Colleen, Frances catches Sophie’s eyes across the room. They gaze and smile at one another. Colleen asks who she is making eyes at. “That’s Sophie. I love her. She’s my best friend’.
Frances returns to her apartment. She is now living on her own, alone. She adds her name to the mailbox. Her last name ‘Handley’ is too long for the mail slot, so she folds the paper so it reads ‘Frances Ha’.