Monday, March 28, 2016

Mistress America: Review

This film is set to a retro electronic musical score not unlike the current musical movement of synthwave.  Lola Krke plays a college student named Tracy.  She feels quite isolated.  She is a struggling and aspiring writer.  In truth, she is struggling existentially.  She has one supportive male friend who provides her with stability.

Lola Kirke.

Tracy's mother has a fiancee who has a daughter.  Her mother encourages her to reach out to the future sister-in-law, Brooke, played by Greta Gerwig.  They do meet up and hit it off.  Brooke is a dominant, life of the party type.  She often redirects conversations and doesn't stick on one subject for a long time.  Tracy says at one point: "I want to write short stories."  Brooke responds: "Me too, but not short stories."

Brooke is 30 and trying to open a restaurant/social space.  Tracy describes Brooke in a telling line: "She did everything and nothing."  Brooke is a ball of energy who is contagious and inspiring.  We also learn that she was effortlessly popular in high school and rather mean.  She makes an observation about herself that also reflects on the city of Los Angeles: "In LA I qualify as well read."  Her enthusiasm for cardio would help her fit right in as well.

Greta Gerwig.

Tracy is impressively unskilled at life.  She doesn't know how to make coffee or how to shop for pasta.  Tracy has been ridiculously sheltered.

This film is filled with quotable wisdom.  Sometimes you have to back to go front.  As you age want increases as possibility decreases.  One character says in response to one of my pet peeves (when someone says that something is okay): "It's not for you to say okay, it's for me to say okay."

The centerpiece of the film is a gathering of increasing complexity, which rekindles the tensions of a love triangle over a sweet heavyset man.  This scene culminates unexpectedly in criteria for writing that's sensitive to women.

There is rhythmic dialogue and many obscure topical references (apple bongs and chickwiches), which creates a hip sensibility.

This is one of Noah Baumbach's more entertaining films and it stands up well to multiple viewings.

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