Director: Noah Baumbach

Writer: Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig (screenplay)

Cast: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke, Seth Barrish

Distributor: Fox Searchlight

R Rating, 84 minutes


Noah Baumbach’s third latest film may also serve as the cap to a distinguishable trilogy of modernly romantic, lushly New York City pictures. Following 2012’s Frances Ha and last year’s While We’re Young, the director returns to a familiar head-space to once again explore, praise, and ponder the peculiar aimless intellectual wanderers of Generation Y, in Mistress America.

Mistress America feels more like the sister film to Frances Ha than others, not particularly because the film is actually about a girl who becomes step-sisters with a very “Frances Halloway-like” character. Considering America was co-written by Baumbach and real-life girlfriend Greta Gerwig (who also co-wrote Frances Ha), the film circles back to a continued interest in the young, spirited, art type–this time, investigating the mind of a young undergrad coming to age identity in the internet age, so creative and cultured, and yet so incompetent and existentially clumsy.

‘Mistress America’ contains whip-smart intellectual musings and dialogue, further enhanced by a deft use of quick-cut editing to mine real laughs and poignancy.

Two characters share these qualities, but come at it from opposite sides. Relative newcomer Lola Kirke plays Tracy, an incoming Freshman Lit major with a fashionably off-beat beret and more creative writing ideas than friends. Her introduction to school is a lonely (yet hilarious) one, prompting her recently engaged mother to encourage her to meet up with her fiance’s daughter, a whimsical near thirty-something New Yorker. Spontaneous Brooke (Gerwig) opens Tracy’s eyes to a world of adventure, immediately embracing her new step-sister and taking her on a whirlwind of the city, backstage at a rock show and the trendiest of bars and parties, spurring the fascination and awe of Tracy, and inspiring her creative writing self to

What makes Mistress America so fun–and it really is, with a script whose dialogue shows how clearly Baumbach and Gerwig have their finger on this culture’s hipster-pulsed zeitgeist–is how much fun the film wishes to have. As While We’re Young similarly explored the self-aware character study of hipsters, America‘s Tracy, being all perceiving in her own right, the former film took a third act dive into blowing up the very identity hipsters. Tracey looks at Brooke with empathy. Brooke’s intentions of opening a restaurant excite an encourage-able Tracy in in-present moments, yet is ultimately filtered through her own inspiration for creative writing, empathizing a person who’s tragic romance is at both times invigorating and unsustainable.

Mistress America contains whip-smart intellectual musings and dialogue, further enhanced by a deft use of quick-cut editing to mine real laughs and poignancy.

Mistress America is now playing in select cities.