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Mistress America (2015)

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


Noah Baumbach
2 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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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 ... Counselor
Sharon Washington ... Professor #2
Morgan Lynch ... Student
Andrea Chen ... Hallway Girl
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 »


Official Sites:

Official site


USA | Brazil



Release Date:

4 September 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Untitled Public School Project See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$234,275, 21 August 2015, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,461,121, 4 October 2015
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The two stars are Greta Gerwig & Lola Kirke. Kirke played a character named Greta in the thriller Gone Girl (2014), while Gerwig played a character named Lola in the comedy Lola Versus (2012). See more »


There is a scene that Tracy is walking on campus with lighted trees on the background. It is actually on the College Walk of Columbia University. And those trees will not be decorated with lights until mid December for the Christmas. But the story happens before Thanksgiving. See more »


Brooke: I thought I might actually go to college. I'm not an amputee.
See more »


Dream Baby Dream
Written by Martin Rev and Alan Vega
Performed by Suicide
Courtesy of Revega Music
©1978 Revega Publishing Co
See more »

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User Reviews

Mistress America is a missed opportunity...
25 August 2015 | by rossmcfarlenSee all my reviews

Saw this today after seeing many 5 star reviews in many publications and billboards here in London. To say I'm disappointed would be to employ gross understatement.

The premise is interesting and creates big expectations from the outset (two young women - one has hit 30 and the other is a English Lit freshman at a NY university form an unlikely friendship when they are on the verge of becoming step-sisters when their respective divorced parent arrange to get married to each other).

This is the kind of screenplay Woody Allen could write in his sleep; but where Allen would exhaust the budding friendship of all its possibilities for humour, melancholy & therapy, Baumbach chooses instead to write an overly arch and self-conscious piece where all the characters seem to be on the same page in the same tribe with all involved being too cool and too smart for school; with all spouting dialogue that is too self-conscious for its own good. I would feel profoundly alienated in the company of these people in real life, where by contrast the characters in Wood Allen films always seem like friends I haven't met yet.

The whole story seems to be overy-worked, contrived, and reaching levels of shallowness I haven't witnessed for a long time. None of the characters are remotely warm or likable and by the end I didn't care what happened to Brooke or Tracy and their budding friendship.

Had Baumbach managed to get Wood Allen's involvement (as editor/collaborator) this could have been a highly humorous (I didn't laugh once and found a lot of the dialogue inaudible and localized for my understanding - Woody Allen never makes this mistake, his films are universal in their appeal even though they're set in the navel-gazing, therapy obsessed New York, there's a wonderful warmth and humour in his films which is just not present in 'Mistress America'.)

And as for the synth pop soundtrack it just seemed completely out of sync with the story and the main protagonists. I can't imagine either young female listening to synth pop composed in the 1980s - like OMD's 'Souvenir'. Play it once fine but repeat it later in the soundtrack sounds like 'clutching at straws' tactics to my ears.

On the plus side Greta Gerwhig clearly is a leading lady and I hope one day I see her again in a film that really showcases her talent. She reminds me of many other actresses like: Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and would you believe Maria Sharapova?

She's like a hybrid of all these women and yet has her own unique presence and look - not to mention having a passing resemblance to a younger Catherine Deneuve? Has a bright future in film but the crazy character she plays in Mistress America doesn't flatter her beauty or talent very much.

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