A lonely college freshman's life is turned upside-down by her impetuous, adventurous stepsister-to-be.


Noah Baumbach
2 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Lola Kirke ... Tracy
Shana Dowdeswell ... Ruth
Shelby Rebecca Wong Shelby Rebecca Wong ... Laura
Alfred Macadam Alfred Macadam ... Professor #1
Amy Warren Amy Warren ... Counselor
Sharon Washington ... Professor #2
Morgan Lynch ... Student
Andrea McKinnon ... Hallway Girl (as Andrea Chen)
Shoba Narayan ... Hallway Girl (as Shoba Narayanan)
Kathryn Erbe ... Tracy's Mom
Jasmine Cephas Jones ... Nicolette
Matthew Shear ... Tony
Colin Stokes Colin Stokes ... Mobius Guy
Juliet Brett ... Tiny Girl
Gretchen Young Gretchen Young ... Work Study Woman


Tracy, a lonely college freshman in New York, is rescued from her solitude by her soon-to-be stepsister Brooke, an adventurous gal about town who entangles her in alluringly mad schemes. Mistress America is a comedy about dream-chasing, score-settling, makeshift families, and cat-stealing.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


from strangers to sisters.


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language including some sexual references | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The Brooklyn-based band Dirty Projectors makes a cameo as the band Brooke sings with on Tracy and Brooke's first night out. See more »


When Brooke's former high school classmate Anna Wheeler approaches Brooke and Tracy in the bar, Anna mentions that she and her husband have recently seen the play Other Desert Cities, which began previews at the Booth Theatre on October 12, 2011 and closed on June 17, 2012. If the film occurs during Tracy's first semester of college and culminates with Thanksgiving dinner with Brooke at Veselka, then the film would occur in fall 2011. However, when the would-be stepsisters walk through Times Square, a marquee for the revival of Annie is visible. The most recent Broadway revival ran at the Palace Theatre from October 3, 2012 (first preview) to January 5, 2014. See more »


Tracy: Your tragedy is your armor.
Brooke: Please, somebody defend me against this monster.
See more »


References Apocalypto (2006) See more »


Happy & Free (Jim James Remix)
Written and performed by Dean Wareham
Courtesy of Double Feature Records
See more »

User Reviews

Too Pretentious For Me
20 December 2015 | by larrys3See all my reviews

Over the years, I've liked some of Noah Baumbach's films, but not others, and this one I'm sorry to say was disappointing. Here, Baumbach directed and co-wrote the script with Greta Gerwig.

The underrated and most talented Gerwig also stars in the movie as Brooke, a free spirit who's leading a whirlwind of a life, with a myriad of part-time jobs but looking to close a deal on a new restaurant, in the Williamsburg section of NYC.

Lola Kirke co-stars here and gives a fine performance as Tracy, a first year college student at Barnard, aspiring to be a writer but having loads of problems fitting in on campus. Brooke and Tracy are slated to be step sisters when Brooke's father and Tracy's mother marry in the near future.

Thus, when Tracy, at the urging of her mother, calls Brooke and they meet for the first time in Manhattan, Tracy finds herself willingly caught up in the cyclone of Brooke's life. Tracy even finds herself using Brooke as inspiration for her short story that she submits to the prestigious Mobius Literary Society at her college.

All of this seems well and good, but for me the problem with the movie is in the dialogue, which often came across to me as mostly pretentious, whiny, and even mean-spirited at times. Thus, the characters that emerged were so shallow and self-absorbed that I mostly lost interest in what would happen to any of them. When that happens to me as I view a film, I start checking the time wondering when it will be finally over.

Overall, Gerwig and Kirke are solid here, with many actors in supporting roles adding much as well. However, as mentioned the occasional clever or humorous line was overshadowed by dialogue that came across to me as affected and pretentious, leading to surfacy and shallow characters.

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

4 September 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mistress America See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$93,206, 16 August 2015

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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