‘Mistress America’ Movie Review

Mistress America Movie Review
Greta Gerwig as “Brooke” and Lola Kirke as “Tracy” in ‘Mistress America’ (Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

“Being around Brooke made you want to find life, not hide from it,” writes Tracy (Lola Kirke), a lonely college freshman new to New York who has found her new best friend/creative writing muse in her soon-to-be stepsister, Brooke (Greta Gerwig), in the comedy film Mistress America.

Not finding it easy adjusting to college life, Tracy finally listens to her mother and reaches out to her soon-to-be stepsister, Brooke, hoping to find a friend. Tracy yearns to experience life in the Big Apple and what she finds in Brooke is a free-spirited woman about town who quickly brings Tracy into her wild adventurous lifestyle. Their very first night together Brooke and Tracy take to the clubs, meeting young men and enjoying the magic that is Time Square at night. Soon Tracy gets caught up in all of Brooke’s mad schemes including her hopes to open up a “very different” type of restaurant and ends up on a road trip in search of someone from Brooke’s past to hopefully invest in her latest crazy idea. Tracy, who aspires to be a writer and desperately wants to join the elite writing club on campus, begins to use Brooke’s wild adventures and bold lifestyle as the basis of a short story which she hopes will win her admission into the club.

Uneven and self-indulgent with characters who annoy more than endear themselves to the audience, Mistress America tries to be too clever and cute for its own good. The friendship between Tracy and Brooke never clicks because the two actresses have zero chemistry together. Lola Kirke’s performance as Tracy, the lonely, in-over-her-head college freshman desperate to experience life and find a friend is sadly one-dimensional, being only an observer and tag-along of Brooke’s life adventures. Her character is also at times too quick to realize the faults and empty promises that come from Brooke. Someone from Tracy’s background and lack of interaction with people would not have such keen insight.

Greta Gerwig delivers an energetic, almost manic performance as the spirited, happy-go-lucky Brooke who still hasn’t grown up and is living her life as though she’s 24 when really she should have matured past her chaotic behavior years ago. Her performance in the film is the strongest and gives real life to Mistress America.

The dialogue is annoying, with the characters speaking pretentiously and in a way no one would in real life. In truth the movie feels as though it’s trying to be funnier and more original than it is…much like its characters.

With uneven pacing, stilted dialogue, and uninteresting, borderline annoying characters, Mistress America comes up short of being the coming-of-age, gal pal film it so desperately strives to be.


MPAA Rating: R for language including some sexual references

Running Time: 84 minutes

Directed By: Noah Baumbach

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