‘Mistress America’ vibrant and genuinely funny
Noah Baumbach is a rare writer/director that has made movies I’ve both loved and hated. Here are two prime examples. My initial viewing of his fantastic “Frances Ha” – which I was lucky enough to enjoy in a theater – was one of the most transformative movie-going experiences I’ve had to date. I remember that it made me passionate about film in a summer that was full of forgettable movies, and it continues to further my love for the art form as I watch it again and again. “While We’re Young” (released earlier this year), on the other hand, I found to be incredibly bothersome and even laughable at times. I sat in the theater waiting for the credits to roll, and it was as far from an enjoyable movie experience as can be. Having these completely opposite reactions to his work, and many more mixed feelings on his other films, I wasn’t sure what I’d think of “Mistress America”. Fortunately, it was one of the most vibrant and genuinely funny films I’ve seen in a very long time.
The picture centers around the relationship between two soon-to-be sisters (or stepsisters for that matter), played by Lola Kirke and Greta Gerwig. One of which is a lonely college freshman who’s quite timid when it comes to actively pursuing her dream of becoming a writer, and the other being a thirty year-old adventurous interior designer who’s notorious for entangling others in her own crazy schemes. They both live in New York City and feel obligated to meet at least once considering the fact that their respective parents will be marrying, and we see their relationship grow considerably in a very short time.
Kirke and Gerwig have this undeniable on-screen chemistry that could only be the product of a real-life friendship. It’s clear that they’re the ones driving the film forward. Greta Gerwig, who’s credited as a co-writer on both this project and “Frances Ha”, shows off her comic ability beautifully. It’s no coincidence that Baumbach’s best films have starred and been co-written by her. She’s quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses working today, and this film perfectly shows why. “Mistress America” is now playing in select theaters.