Mistress America
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Mistress America

Most of us have had a person come into our lives that have changed our perspective of the world. They assist us in seeing the beauty in the mundane to bring a touch of mischief into an of the bars well-ordered life; the influence always seems to come in that ineffable moment in life just before when you have to settle down into the conformity that adult life imposes upon all of us. ‘Mistress America’ is a comedy that explores this concept. This film is one of those independent gems that are so well-crafted you find yourself returning to watch it again and again just to recapture the experience you felt with your initial viewing of it. It was directed by Noah Baumbach like the majority of his work is essentially dramatic comedy threads woven throughout that bind the story to a reality that allows you to bond with the characters easily. Among the other films he has found some eclectic masterpieces that you are more familiar with in independent cinema you will recognize; ‘Margot at the Wedding,' ‘The Squid and the Whale’ and ‘While We're Young.' His co-author for the screenplay and leading lady of this film was Greta Gerwig, a force of nature and independent film in one of the most prominent members of the mumblecore style she has had a significant influence on both his personal and professional lives. Their names are often billed together on some of the more interesting movies I have encountered in the last decade or so. After a considerable stretch of time watching truly dreadful follow films intermixed with some big-budget blockbusters was an extremely wonderful experience to get back to some of the fundamentals of the film as an artistic expression. This movie achieves only an independent film can; telling a simple story of human interaction and the dynamics of a new friendship. Devoid of special-effects and cast members that are considered by the media to be on the A-List, this will depend solely on the extraordinary talent on both sides of the camera.

Tracy Fishko (Lola Kirke) is your chapter life as a college freshman at the prestigious Barnard College. Tracy has always been rather reserved finds it difficult to fit into her new surroundings in place in a far different social hierarchy. She tells her mother (Kathryn Erbe) about her quandary it is suggested that she contact the soon to be stepsister Brooke (Greta Gerwig), who conveniently also lives in New York City. Their initial meeting pulled Tracy into a dreamlike world the dazzling nights spent on the town. Brooke was so impressed by the adventure that she immediately began writing, turning the experience into a short story. So impressed by the energy of the evening Tracy decides to submit a short story to the prestigious college literary magazine. Tracy begins spending an increasing amount of time with Brooke coming to see her sort of a mentor to life in New York City.

Although Brooke appears to be the ‘carpe diem’ type of person she shares with Tracy her plans for the future. She is going to open up a restaurant called, ‘Mom’s’ that located to a small but discerning clientele. Named after her late mother the restaurant is to be financed by her boyfriend and business partner. Tracy’s view looks like as an ideal wonderland soon comes crashing down to reality. Brooke comes home one day to find she is locked out of her apartment. Her boyfriend has been on his financial support of Brooks’ personal life and their pending business venture. The staggering number of bills is coming to the restaurant with no way to possibly paying them. Next option is one that any levelheaded businessman would take; she visits a psychic bringing Tracy along with her. The advice provided is vague and subject to interpretation so Brooke understands it to mean that she should contact a former friend, Mamie-Claire (Heather Lind). She appeared to be an unusual form of relief for Brooke’s dilemma as she had a falling out with Mamie-Claire over little matters like stealing the business idea and Marion former fiancé. This type of personal history is not conducive for securing a sizable loan in a time distress. Brooke has a friend, Tony (Matthew Shear) drive her out to visit Mamie-Claire at her home in Connecticut. She also brings along another friend, Nicolette (Jasmine Cephas Jones), because he suspects that Tony is having an affair with Tracy.

What occurs next in the story is the main reason why the adjective ‘Screwball’ is so frequently associated with the film. When they arrive, Mamie-Claire has a book party which Brooke and her entourage immediately crash. Mamie-Claire takes Tracy aside and confirms that she did become rich by stealing Brooks idea for a T-shirt business. She then informs Brooke that the decision will have to rate until husband Dylan (Michael Chernus) arrives back home. While detailing the proposals and Dylan Brooks stumbles in her presentation, but fortunately, Tracy has become so enamored of Brooke and her ideas that she immediately finishes the pitch. Dylan agrees to provide the money but not as an investment but to cover the debts that will be incurred from forgoing business plans.

Comedy is always a difficult genre is a master, but as a team, Mr. Baumbach and Ms. Gerwig mesh together so ideally that you can easily dismiss any of the unlikely coincidences that occur to drive the story. Together they have created characters that may appear to be somewhat exaggerated archetypes of the genre, but his right is this pair of brilliant comedy writers manages to imbue such a degree of humanity into them that you find yourself understanding them in on some level able to bond with them. I’ve been a big fan of mumblecore since it first took hold about a decade or so ago. Such independent films as single quote The Puffy Chair ‘or ‘Hannah Takes the Stairs’ the name this two-artist frequently appeared in the credits as serving some functions on both sides of the camera. In particular, Ms. Gerwig has always proven to be bold actress willing to take chances with some incredibly emotional performances. This film possesses such vivacity to it that you cannot help it because of in the often zany antics the principal characters. Would have been so easy to reduce Brooke and Tracy to mere caricatures that it took an incredible amount of finesse on the part performance to breathe life into them turning the characters into human beings that you can have about and want to understand. This is a joyful celebration of the emotional peaks and valleys that life throws at each one of us. It is a movie that you will return to time and again just for the sheer pleasure of it.

Posted 12/30/2015            09/29/2017

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