A smart, funny coming-of-age story set in the Big City
Writer/director Noah Baumbach and actor/writer Greta Gerwig, co-creators of Frances Ha!, have come out with another smart, frisky, freewheeling comedy of contemporary manners. Mistress America is more coming-of-age tale than romantic comedy, but the smart, fast-talking, tough-minded legacy of screwball comedy is once again very much in evidence.
Adventurous college freshman Tracy (Lola Kirke) finds herself swept up in the aura of 30-something Brooke (Gerwig), daughter of the man Lola’s mom is going to marry. Both of the young women are quirky, quick-witted, tightly wound and somewhat literary, and they bond almost immediately, albeit more out of impulse than of insight.
Hyperactive Brooke, it soon turns out, is every bit as unsettled in her sense of self and purpose as the much younger Tracy. Plus, Brooke’s old friends and rivals and Tracy’s ambivalent classmates are variously caught up in the assorted stages of youthful questing—seekers of stories, seekers of selves.
Gerwig’s good-natured mixture of high-energy klutziness and zany intelligence seems to influence almost everything else in the film. But it’s Baumbach’s direction of the ensemble, good-natured and whip-smart in its own right, that leaves the strongest overall impression.