Actor Appreciation Week 2 Review: Mistress America (2015)

In Mistress America, as in everything he writes, Noah Baumbach has crafted complex characters who are deeply flawed. Most are rather self-centered, obsessing over their image in society whilst only half-listening to the issues of their friends, and so could really be ripped straight from Lola Kirke’s sister’s show Girls. Here, Kirke’s Tracy is a freshman in college who befriends her older future step sister Brooke (played to perfection by an as always on-form Greta Gerwig). The growing friendship, despite the evident narcissism, is warm and it’s beautiful to watch Tracy’s growing admiration for this quirky all-rounder. At the same time though, Baumbach implants a certain sadness to the happenings, which eventually explodes in a magnificent third act. Although Tracy, like the audience, admires and enjoys her time with Brooke because it is pure screwball fun, she also understands that Brooke’s way of life is lacking because of her constant need to jump around. She’s destined to fail. Ultimately though the friendship is one of great benefit to Tracy despite the drawbacks, allowing her to grow and develop and learn about who she is as a person. It’s a very human comedy drama, that expertly satirises today’s youth culture and brilliantly narrates the maturation of a shy, lonely freshman. Some may find the main characters grating, but many will cherish the realism that surrounds the friendship between Tracy, the shy want-to-be-author, and Brooke, the eccentric screwball.

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