Mistress America (2015)

Precocious and twee at times, I’d hold this against the film if I didn’t trust Noah Baumbach. The moments of 20-something pretentiousness are thankfully undercut in the final act and the film’s breakneck pace means moments that would make us cringe in a lesser film are quickly forgotten. Also, it makes me realize that this is the closest we’re going to get to a modern screwball comedy with that breakneck dialogue unless the Coen Bros. decide to make a spiritual successor to The Hudsucker Proxy.

Much like Frances Ha, this captures a lot of the feelings and emotions I have right now. There’s that desire to do something big, but none of the practical drive to make it a reality. There are shifting dreams. There’s desecrating relationships and complicated pasts. There’s also disillusionment and a bit of resentment of seeing what life might have been for you as you look at all the people around you who seem much happier and better off.

Unlike Frances Ha, I never felt any true warmth to any of the characters. They’re all interesting in their own ways, but I’m never rooting for any of them. I’d just as soon see these characters get their just deserts than see them triumph. In Frances Ha, I was rooting for Greta Gerwig’s character. Here, I’m kinda hoping she gets taken down a notch for being so full of herself. And while Lola Kirke is cute as can be, she’s a manipulative, cruel woman. I guess the Matthew Shear character is likable, but he’s also a tool. Nobody in this movie comes across as worth rooting for.

© 2016 James Blake Ewing

  • I definitely agree with the connections here to the screwball comedy genre. The scenes in the house and all the fast talking from Gerwig definitely remind me of it. It’s quite a fun movie and surprised me despite not being as deep as Frances Ha. Still, it beats some of Baumbach’s more mean-spirited works.

  • I still have a hard time believing he’s the same guy who made Margot at the Wedding. Such a spiteful work. Even thought the characters are despicable here, it never feels like the film treats them with disdain.