Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Baumbach introduces ‘Mistress America’

Cinema | February 20th, 2015

Wittily written, sparklingly performed and dazzlingly directed, “Mistress America” quickly makes for itself a strong case as Noah Baumbach’s finest film to date.If not, the movie is at least every bit as wonderful as “The Squid and the Whale,” though its tone more closely resembles an effortlessly madcap screwball comedy by Ernst Lubitsch or Gregory LaCava or Howard Hawks or George Cukor or Preston Sturges. “Mistress America” is the second writing collaboration between Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, and like “Frances Ha,” the movie blossoms under the influence and presence of the warm and winning star.Gerwig plays Brooke, a brilliant dreamer who juggles gigs as a spin class instructor and bottom-rung interior designer with plans to open a Williamsburg restaurant where the home-style cooking will be served on deliberately mismatched china. Brooke lives in an expansive exposed brick loft – not zoned residential and reachable only by fire escape and unlocked window.

The boyfriend to whom the space apparently belongs is absent. All of Brooke’s traits, and her cascade of blurted, hysterical non-sequiturs, cast a spell on Tracy (a smashing Lola Kirke), a Barnard first year and aspiring writer whose mother is engaged to marry Brooke’s father.

For the sake of future family harmony, the sisters-to-be decide to hang out, and Tracy’s trepidations evaporate in the presence of the energetic and uninhibited “adult.” Baumbach has always been a shrewd observer of human nature and desire at multiple ages, and one of the supreme pleasures of “Mistress America” is watching Tracy watch Brooke.

Scott Foundas writes, “Like one of his own filmmaking idols, Eric Rohmer, [Baumbach] seems to have remained very much an adolescent at heart, and he’s one of the few American filmmakers to embrace young people in all of their amorphous identity, occasional callowness and naive optimism…” Though Brooke and Tracy are not all that far apart in age, Baumbach and Gerwig fully grasp the world of difference between them.

Without implying any disrespect to “Frances Ha,” a Sundance programmer identified “Mistress America” in his introduction to the film as a significant leap forward for Gerwig and Baumbach. The comment might have applied to a kind of collaborative confidence emerging from the pair’s onscreen and offscreen relationships, but it could just as easily footnote the filmmaker’s embrace of élan over introspection, brio over self-loathing, and joie de vivre over grim resignation.

Those latter markers of melancholia describe aspects of “The Squid and the Whale,” “Margot at the Wedding” and “Greenberg,” and are to Baumbach equally worthwhile sources of humor.

Fleet and nimble, “Mistress America,” like all great movies, leaves you wanting more and imagining additional experiences for characters you feel you got to know intimately in less than 90 minutes. There is much to recommend here: the John Hughes-esque application of Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips’ fantastic synth pop score; the incisive way Baumbach explores the boundaries between life and art (Tracy’s unauthorized use of Brooke as the basis for a short story character provides enough material for a movie of its own); and the breathless, astonishingly staged and realized set-piece that finds an odd assortment of unlikely guests committing to farce at a Connecticut home. However, the greatest joys of “Mistress America” can be found in the warmth of the relationship between Tracy and Brooke.

“Mistress America” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will be released theatrically later in 2015.

Recently in:

By Maddie Robinsonmaddierobi.mr@gmail.com This article discusses topics related to mental health and suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org. …

Homesteading stories shared by late local historianBy Michael M. Millermichael.miller@ndsu.edu The 53rd Germans from Russia Heritage Society Convention convenes July 17-20 at the Baymont Hotel in Mandan, North Dakota. For further…

With Javier Quiroz and Kohlrabi SoupJuly 10 at 7 p.m.The Aquarium226 N. Broadway, Fargo (above Dempsey’s)The Wall Street Journal had this to say about “Black Banjo,” Tray Wellington’s full-length debut: “This is a record…

The WFF Unified School District?By John Strandjas@hpr1.com Both the Fargo and West Fargo School Districts are strategizing their futures. This is necessary, because of immensely challenging financial and geopolitical changes facing…

By Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.comShould ‘The Chosen One’ be Sentenced to Spend Months at each Level?It’s not unusual on this planet, we have had hundreds of men and a couple of women who have used religion to become…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com Holiday wine shopping shouldn’t have to be complicated. But unfortunately it can cause unneeded anxiety due to an overabundance of choices. Don’t fret my friends, we once again have you covered…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com In this land of hotdish and ham, the knoephla soup of German-Russian heritage seems to reign supreme. In my opinion though, the French have the superior soup. With a cheesy top layer, toasted baguette…

HPR chats with Bob Carpenter of the Nitty Gritty Dirt BandBy Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com When asked if it was fair to consider the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band as “the godfathers of contemporary Americana” during our interview,…

Now playing at the Fargo Theatre.By Greg Carlson gregcarlson1@gmail.comPalme d’Or recipient “Anatomy of a Fall” is now enjoying an award-season victory tour, recently picking up Golden Globe wins for both screenplay and…

New Minnesota sculptures include artist’s largest trollBy Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com According to Danish artist and environmental activist Thomas Dambo, “All trash is treasure.” So far, he and his team have built 138…

By John Showalterjohn.d.showalter@gmail.comHigh Plains Reader had the opportunity to interview two mysterious new game show hosts named Milt and Bradley Barker about an upcoming event they will be putting on at Brewhalla. What…

By Annie Prafckeannieprafcke@gmail.com AUSTIN, Texas – As a Chinese-American, connecting to my culture through food is essential, and no dish brings me back to my mother’s kitchen quite like hotdish. Yes, you heard me right –…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comNew Jamestown Brewery Serves up Local FlavorThere’s something delicious brewing out here on the prairie and it just so happens to be the newest brewery west of the Red River and east of the…

By John Showalter  john.d.showalter@gmail.comThey sell fentanyl test strips and kits to harm-reduction organizations and…

JANUARY 19, 1967– MARCH 8, 2023 Brittney Leigh Goodman, 56, of Fargo, N.D., passed away unexpectedly at her home on March 8, 2023. Brittney was born January 19, 1967, to Ruth Wilson Pollock and Donald Ray Goodman, in Hardinsburg,…

By Jim Fugliejimfuglie920@gmail.comMy articles here are about politics. I’m writing this before the North Dakota primary election. You are reading it after the primary. Advantage: readers. So I won’t speculate much on that…