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.
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 »
I know I'm funny. I know everything about myself. That's why I can't do therapy.
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Noah Baumbach Tries Screwball Comedy with Mixed Results
A refreshing, if not entirely successful, change of pace for Noah Baumbach. Leaving behind the upper-crust east coast neurotics that pepper his other movies and make them sometimes intolerable, he focuses instead on the relationship between a young woman (Lola Kirke) and her soon-to-be sister-in-law (Greta Gerwig), a freewheeling spirit who the young girl takes on as a life mentor.
"Mistress of America" feels very honest in its exploration of the thorniness that comes with admiration. Kirke looks to Gerwig as a kind of role model, but she also begins to realize that those we emulate are not infallible, and what we sometimes learn from them is how not to be. This lesson comes to Kirke at the expense of her relationship with Gerwig, and they have the predictable falling out, but the movie ends in a place that feels right. Just because we acknowledge that role models aren't perfect doesn't mean they can't still be role models.
Baumbach shoots for a zany screwball tone in "Mistress America" that doesn't really fit his talents. The strain is most noticeable in an extended scene set in the vast home of one of Gerwig's friends. I wanted to think it was funny, but mostly it just felt forced. But I'll take Baumbach's attempts at comedy, even if uneven, over the unbearable whiners in, say, "Margot at the Wedding," any day.
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