After the press screening of Mistress America, the new collaboration between Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, I thought of ways the movie could be pitched: "Like a Wes Anderson film without the dioramas!" "Like a Kevin Smith movie without Kevin Smith!" Neither line is quite accurate, but they get across the idea — Mistress America is funny, engaging and full of characters that do not talk or behave like real humans.
I was one of the people that didn't like Baumbach and Gerwig's popular 2012 comedy, Frances Ha. This one works for me. It's funny in the typical smartasses-in-New-York fashion, which I usually get sick of after a while. But midway through this one, it veers into screwball comedy land, which turns out to be a very wise move.
Gerwig plays Brooke, an interior designer and aerobics instructor and SO MUCH MORE! She has one GREAT idea after another and the fact that she's barely holding it together is really irrelevant in the larger scheme of things, DON'T YOU THINK?
Overwhelmed college freshman Tracy (Lola Kirke) meets Brooke (Gerwig) — her mom is going to marry Brooke's dad — and everything gets much more interesting. Brooke lives in Times Square! She preforms with a band! She's going to open a quaint, family-style Williamsburg restaurant with her boyfriend, who is "off in Greece betting against the economy or something."
Other characters include a tense classmate (Matthew Shear) of Tracy's and his jealous girlfriend (Jasmine Cephas-Jones), an "ex-friend" (Heather Lind) of Brooke's and more. Some of them end up on a road trip to Connecticut for an investment pitch. That's where the screwball aspect of the story kicks in. There's lots of laughs, leading up to a moment of clarity. But only a moment. Mistress America is uneven, but it delivers when it counts, and that's all I require.
Opening: Friday, Keystone Art