Mistress America 2014

mistress_america_stillWriter/director Noah Baumbach’s output is inconsistent, but at his best, he’s got an eye of character that makes him a unique talent. Working with star Greta Gerwig, who gets a co-writer credit, Baumbach manages to provide a strong companion piece to his similarly offbeat Frances Ha. Tracy (Lola Kirke) falls under the influence of Manhattan socialite Brooke (Gerwig), who has big ideas and a entrepreneurial flair. But it soon transpires that Brooke is anything but the success she appears, and Tracy’s acceptance of that gets Mistress America off on the right foot. It’s almost like The Great Gatsby if Gatsby’s businesses had failed; Brooke is an anti-heroine who is completely wrapped up in herself, and her relationship with Tracy is all the most interesting because the film dares to look at apparently rational people who are slightly deluded about who they are and what they can achieve. It may not be the American dream, but it’s a reality that is universally recognizable. The climax may be theatrical, and the music choices are retro in a way that doesn’t quite fit the narrative, but Mistress America is a snapshot of 2015 that pulls no punches in terms of how millennials can present their lives as constant success despite encroaching failure.

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