Mistress America (2015)

Cast includes: Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), Lola Kirke (Gone Girl),
Director: Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha, The Squid and the Whale), Heather Lind (TURN: Washington’s Spies), Michael Chernus (Captain Phillips), Matthew Shear (Taking Woodstock)
Writer: Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha)
Genre: Comedy (84 minutes)

Huffington Post

“Isn’t every storm a story of betrayal?” Tracy is a freshman at Barnard in New York City… arriving with great enthusiasm, but finding that one can’t be in the “in” crowd without sporting an ultra-jaded attitude. “No one makes friends in class,” she tells her mom, who’s called to talk about Thanksgiving. Turns out Mom fiancé has a daughter living in New York. Brooke’s 30… “She doesn’t need to hear from an 18-year-old.” More to the point… Tracy still has hope of winning acceptance at Barnard. “I’m submitting a story to Mobius,” she tells Tony. “Self-elected douche bags”… she and Tony agree after they find out that neither of them got accepted. “My mom is marrying your dad, so I guess that’ll make us sisters,” Tracy tells Brooke over the phone. They meet in Time Square, near Brooke’s illegal apartment.

“So crazy!” Everything about Brooke and her world is crazy. Brooke immediately takes Tracy under her wing… just what Tracy needs after her recent rejection. “You should never feel inferior,” says Brooke, as she launches into the story of her life… people sealing her shit… Mamie-Claire stole her T-shirt idea, her boyfriend and her cats. “We need a sleepover party,” Brooke announces. When Tracy doesn’t know how to make coffee the next morning… “Figure it out. Don’t be incompetent!” Brook never lacks confidence. She didn’t go to college… “I’m an autodidact,” she tells Tracy. “That’s one of the words I self taught myself.” “She lives exactly like a young woman should live, who wants to spend her youth well,” says Tracy in the story she’s started writing for another submission to Mobius. “I didn’t always agree with her on everything, but it was too much fun, agreeing with her.” Anyway, Brooke has plans and investors. But investors can be fickle… like the weather. “Weather changed. But by the time I realized it, it was already too late.” In the meantime, Tracy agrees with Brooke about stingy rich people… “Rich people always give out bad Halloween candy.”

The Brooke-Tracy sisterhood turns out to be a wild ride. While Brooke is flamboyantly chasing her dream, Tracy takes notes and quietly pursues her ambition as a fiction writer. Mistress America is the brainchild of Greta Gerwig, who not only wrote the screenplay but plays Brooke in a way that only Greta Gerwig can. Mistress America has all the hallmarks of Gerwig’s very quirky style and her favorite theme… coming of age without growing up. While critics have always loved Greta Gerwig, much of her work is a bit too offbeat for mainstream audiences. Mistress America could be the one that finally breaks through. It feels tighter and less chaotic than some of her earlier work… but it’s still very offbeat, even by screwball comedy standards. Not surprisingly, some of the other characters have Gerwig-style dialog. At an especially low moment, Tony laments… “Sometimes I think I’m a genius. I’d just like to fast forward my life to the point when everyone knows it.” He’s not alone in that wish.

popcorn rating

3 popped kernels

College freshman discovers that her soon-to-be 30-year-old sister can teach her more about life than she can ever learn at Barnard

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R (Language)
Audience: Young Adults
Gender Style: Bold
Distribution: Mainstream Limited Release
Mood: Upbeat
Tempo: Zips Right Along
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism
Nutshell: Crazy older sister mentors her new younger sister
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure Entertainment

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