Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fox Searchlight Film Review- Mistress America

Tracy (Lola Kirk) is an inspiring writer and freshman at University in Manhattan. Her roommate doesn't like her, she has no friends and the schools elite writing group the Mobius Literary Society just rejected her first short story. She meets Tony (Matthew Shear) who saves her from being caught sleeping in a class both bond over being rejected by Mobius. Tracy thinks there may be a spark with Tony but learns that he has a girlfriend named Nicolette. Tracy is once again alone eating by herself in a restaurant. She takes a chance and calls Brooke (Greta Gerwig) who's in her late 20's and whose dad is about to marry Tracey's mom.  The two become fast friends Brooke inspiring Tracy to write as the former takes her future step sister on a tour or her New York haunts revealing her plan to open a  restaurant with her boyfriend Stavros who will be returning soon from Greece.

Director Noah Baumbach and his muse and co writer Greta Gerwig tell a contemporary tale in the big city that is dripping with rich quick and witty dialogue. Brooke a seasoned New Yorker talks a mile a minute bouncing from one subject to the next while going about her day doing one diametrically opposed activity to the next. She's a spin class instructor and junior high school tutor but only until she can pass her SATs to teach older kids and make better money. Brooke has a very large vocabulary and even better at turning a phrase not to mention Tracy and her peers who are all literary University students.  Most of Baumbach's scenes are shot conservatively in the piece except for one sequence early on in the film that serves to establish the two main characters. It's Tracy's first time at Brooke's commercial space hearing about her soon to be relative's Arch enemy Mamie-Claire who stole her boyfriend, catchy floral top idea along with her two cats and apparently her favourite red pants. While Brooke rants and raves in the foreground Tracy heads into the closest to have a look for the garment.  The camera moves in then back and forth between the two as Brooke tells her tale until finally resting on Tracy as she reveals the pants bringing a smile to Brooke's face.

The action is mainly based in Manhattan except for a delightful interlude in Greenwich, Connecticut to seek a last minute investment in the restaurant from her ex Dylan and the aforementioned Mamie-Claire because they owe her. Tony and Nicolette accompany the pair to Connecticut where they meet a creepy neighbour of the targets and a book club full of pregnant women. It's on the road trip where the girl's relationship changes and the audience gets a better picture of the true nature of the films protagonists.

Greta Gerwig is at her manic whirlwind best as Brooke. She is pretty but not threatening, connected but not braggy a multi tasking high functioning being that is a perfect fit for New York. Lola Kirk is quieter but keenly focused as Tracy. She narrates the piece as she writes her second short story for Morbius based on her experiences with Brooke.  Jasmine Cephas Jones does extremely well with a relatively small role as Tony super possessive girlfriend Nicolette.

Mistress America is the definition of a dialogue driven piece. The narrative is very quick sneakily  funny and a story that will appeal to a wide audience.  It's a film that I can definitely recommend.

*** 1/2 Out of 4.

Mistress America | Noah Baumbach | U.S.A. | 2015 | 85 minutes.

Tags: Manhattan, University, Literature, Writing club, Step- Sisters, Wedding, Thanksgiving, J Crew,  Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, Psychic.

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