Review: Mistress America

Noah Baumbach’s third film with the sometimes simultaneously irresistible and irritating Greta Gerwig (after Greenberg and Frances Ha) and his second with her collaborating upon the screenplay after Frances Ha, this is apparently intended by them as an attempt to recreate the mood of 80s charmers from the late lamented John Hughes (think The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink and so forth). And yet…

Noah Baumbach’s third film with the sometimes simultaneously irresistible and irritating Greta Gerwig (after Greenberg and Frances Ha) and his second with her collaborating upon the screenplay after Frances Ha, this is apparently intended by them as an attempt to recreate the mood of 80s charmers from the late lamented John Hughes (think The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink and so forth). And yet Hughes’ best–loved characters are rarely beyond their teens, and they’re certainly never allowed to be as ever–so–up-themselves as this. Tracy (Lola Kirke) is a slightly pretentious college freshman in New York who’s feeling quietly lonely, so when her soon–to–remarry mum (Kathryn Erbe) suggests that she hook up with her rather older stepsister–to–be, Tracy jumps at the chance. Said stepsister, of course, turns out to be Brooke (Gerwig), an irrepressibly chaotic figure whom Tracy finds fascinating and is soon somewhat obsessed with. Brooke creatively inspires Tracy into penning the unflattering titular essay as the plot resolves itself into a road trip, with the infatuated Tony (Matthew Shear) along for the ride and some of the funniest comedy this director’s ever managed. Gerwig brings Baumbach’s film to life, but she’s matched here by Kirke (a scene–stealer from Gone Girl), and both rather daringly play these women as flawed, manipulative and even the kind of young ‘uns the sweetly naïve title character from Frances Ha would cross the street to avoid. But they’re so melancholy, amusing, real and, well, cute that you don’t really mind, and it’s hard not to be as smitten as poor old Tony. Rated M. Mistress America is in cinemas now

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