It was approaching 11pm and I needed to watch a movie. My wife picked Mistress America from the on-demand selection, and I skeptically agreed. As the movie played on, I saw some really great writing and storytelling portrayed by some talented actors. I give Mistress America the rating Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy.
Tracy (Lola Kirke) is a freshmen in college and is struggling to find friends. At the encouragement of her mother (Kathryn Erbe), she seeks out her soon-to-be stepsister, Brooke (Greta Gerwig), in hopes of making a connection in New York. Brooke’s impetuous, adventurous personality immediately flip’s Tracy’s world upside down.
Greta Gerwig drove me crazy when Brooke is first introduced. She’s obnoxious and everything she says sounds like a lie. Yet, as the film went on the complexity of her character became apparent and she became a bit relatable. This imitates Tracy’s encounter with Brooke as she is so impacted by Brooke she writes a story about her. Her initial impressions of Brooke mirror my own and sets the story in a compelling direction.
I’m interested in seeing more Noah Baumbach films
This ended up being my first Noah Baumbach directed film. I’ve seen his work with Wes Anderson, but I’ve yet to watch any of his films. Greta Gerwig and Baumbach co-wrote the screenplay for Mistress America. He’s been a director I’ve wanted to get into and this film has cemented that. My favorite sequence of the film is when Brooke, Tracy, Tony (Matthew Shear), and Nicolette (Jasmine Cephas Jones) go to Dylan (Michael Chernus) and Mamie-Claire’s (Heather Lind) house. The way the scenes move from room to room with one character’s actions taking place transitioning to another interaction, odd-repetitious jokes, and a surprise culmination of the plot is just impressive. I loved every minute of it even when it felt over-the-top. Tracy’s character really goes through some major changes through the course of the film clearly trying to become Brooke and then realizing she needed to be her own person.
I’m becoming a bigger fan while thinking on the film. There is a lot of stuff happening in the film, but all of it is relative small. The impact of the characters actions are really only going to change their world. The film is a character study in many ways and really does a lot of great things in the small world of Brooke and Tracy. I am definitely turned from a disinterested viewer to an enthusiastic watcher.