Lonely and adrift at the start of her college year, Tracy Fishko (Lola Kirke) is encouraged by her mother to look up her soon-to-be step sister, Brooke Cardinas (Greta Gerwig), in New York City. The two hit it off immediately, and Tracy becomes enamoured with her older, confident friend’s bustling, sophisticated big city lifestyle. As Tracy orbits Brooke’s life, growing in confidence, the pair become good friends.
Tracy (Lola Kirke) also strikes up a solitary college friendship with fellow student Tony, and when she strong-arms him into driving Brooke to visit potential investors for her restaurant, the film changes tack and takes on an almost screwball comedy feel as a quiet Sunday book club is interloped by Brooke’s entourage, forgotten house guests and nosey neighbours. The believability is never stretched however, even when the more comedic elements cause it to tread a fine line.
Noah Baumbach’s latest offering brings much of what we’ve come to expect from his humorous, slice-of-life approach to filmmaking. A typically comedic, indie drama that could keep good company with Richard Linklater’s smarter output or the vast majority of the Duplass Brother’s catalogue. Fresh from their collaboration on Frances Ha, co-writers Baumbach and Gerwig deliver cracking dialogue and expertly realised characters.
Also, there are no weak links on the acting front. Lola Kirke is excellent as Tracy, full of awkwardness and youthful moxy, as she becomes enthralled with her older ‘sister’ and finds her feet in a new environment. And Greta Gerwig’s charismatic performance brings a likability to a flawed character who had the potential to alienate early on.
Plot-wise, Mistress America is one of those movies that gets to its conclusion having fooled you into thinking a lot more has happened than actually has, but rather than any weakness of script, it’s more of a testament to its entertaining, believable characters and engrossing nature.
THE REEL SCORE: 8/10