By Darin Skaggs
Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig are forces to be reckon with. Their 2013 collaboration, Frances Ha was a near masterpiece about a late twenty something that is trying to figure out how to live life after her long time best friend moves in with her boyfriend. Most of Baumbach’s work depends on its main characters growing older and being forced to reanalyze their life. In Mistress America not only is Gerwig back playing a young thirty something trying to find her place in the world, it also brings along a young eye in to shed some light and unnecessary judgment upon her aging, problematic characters that suggests we are all not perfect people who can make just as many mistakes as anyone else.
Mistress America stars Lola Kirke as Tracy, an awkward college student, bound and unsuccessful at making any new friends. On one lonely evening she calls her to-be sister-in-law, Brooke, played by Greta Gerwig. They form a decent relationship; flaws are evident, but never acknowledged until too late. Brooke spends her time trying to find the time and money to follow her most recent dreams, opening a restaurant. Tracy follows her around, at first to write a sad little story about Brooke so she could get into the most prestige writing club in her school. It does form into a loving friendship like that of actual sisters. That is until they pay a visit to Brooke’s old flame, Dylan (Michael Chernus) and the women she claims stole him, Mamie-Claire (Heather Lind) to try and get a donation for Brooke’s restaurant in where everything comes crashing down.
Much like Frances Ha, this movie is really hilarious. Both films find humor in the sad parts of life, Frances Ha had the lone visit to Paris where Frances sees Puss in Boots all by herself, in which she is late to, while in the most romantic city in the world. Here we see Tracy fall for Tony, a classmate, as they both grieve about not getting into the highly esteemed writing group. Several fast cuts of Tracy smiling and giving off warm vibes then cuts to Tony holding another girl’s hand as Tracy becomes melancholy and disappointed just as she was previously. So many little funny lines and details spread out throughout the film like Karen, a pregnant lady who gets stuck in Mamie-Claire’s house when all the drama occurs and becomes an audience member who spouts her own comments about the whole situation.
This movie is all about the clashing of the ages, the ones that are getting to the middle of their life and the ones whose adult life has just begun. Tracy is lost, she doesn’t know how to make friends and she obsesses over which pasta would impress her new more grown up friends. The movie knows that these young people have no idea what they are talking about half the time and just feel the need to be smart, proof by Tony walking in Mamie-Claire’s house where he sees a group of pregnant women at a book club and claims they are all really smart, though he has not heard a word they said. This clashes with the ageing group, mostly represented by Brooke, later by Mamie-Claire and Dylan. If the film only suggested the young are too ignorant to know what they are talking about the movie would not be good, but it shows that no matter how old you get you will not really know what you’re doing, just used to the idea you never will. Mistress America is a fantastic film, there is no doubt that Baumbach’s new direction is brilliant. Gerwig working as screenwriter helps tremendously with the emotion and humor and I cannot wait to see what they are both up to next.