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Mistress America (2015)


I was mystified when that auteurist production Sight & Sound put Greta Gerwig on the cover a couple of summers ago. I find the woman … immensely irritating. To put it mildly. Then I liked her, kind of, in Frances Ha, which she made with Noah Baumbach, the husband of Jennifer Jason Leigh. Who has now divorced him. Draw your own conclusions. So here she’s the stepsister to be to Tracy (Lola Kirke) a wannabe writer who hates her college freshman experience and needs a friend in NYC. Her mom is about to marry Brooke’s dad, so they meet up, have a great night because thirtysomething Brooke is such a crazy hip chick, and she writes a short story about it to finally win friends and influence people in Barnard. Anything to get into the Lit Soc.  Only it’s about Brooke. Which all comes out at a day out in Greenwich, a trip necessitated by Brooke’s boyfriend pulling the plug on a bizarre idea for a restaurant and locking her out of her apartment. Mamie-Claire in the Greenwich mansion made a fortune from Brooke’s teeshirt business idea (she’s a total flake who never follows through) and stole her boyfriend and even her bloody cats. So Tracy interprets a spiritualist’s message that Brooke should get money from her to restore everyone’s path. It all goes catastrophically wrong when her story is read by everyone in the house in a bizarre semi-screwball sequence that dominates the film. The women fall out. And it turns out their parents have split up … This allegedly charming movie just aggravated me. I can’t stand Gerwig. (But at least she no longer feels compelled to get her top off in every film.) She co-wrote this with Baumbach. And it has a good point to make about the kind of writers who feed vampirically off their friends’ lives. And there’s a thrill to see your work published for the first time, sure, I get that. Baumbach made While We’re Young, one of my favourite films of the last couple of years, but this? I don’t get it. I don’t get it at all.

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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