Mistress America - A new Baumbach/Gerwig comedic combination, are you ready for this? - 3 stars

I need someone I can love, not someone I can keep up with. 

Walking into the cinema...
Fans of director Noah Baumbach congregate in small theatres throughout the world and relish in his unique insights on the world. Will this venture broaden his audience base? 

Overall Rating: 3 stars
Cinematic rating: 3 stars 
Bigger questions rating: 4 stars      

       Tracy (Lola Kirke) is going through a tough time in life. She is a literature student in her first year of university and she is finding it hard to fit in with any group on campus. Her personal life is bringing its own challenges, too. Her parents have recently divorced and her mother is remarrying and when she thinks she has finally found the right guy, she finds out he is in love with someone else. She is confused, depressed and desperate for direction and connection with anyone. Then Brooke (Greta Gerwig) comes into her life, Tracy's soon-to-be older stepsister. Brooke is everything that this first year university student wants to be in life, independent, confident and uniquely fearless. In one magical New York night of hanging out with Brooke, Tracy is enamoured and inspired by her endearing sister-like role model. Then over the next few days, the reality of Brooke's life get complicated and pulls Tracy into a bizarre, but humorous adventure in real life and self-awareness for both women. 
       The fans of director Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha, Greenberg) will be delighted with this latest instalment in the Baumbach/Gerwig comedic combination. They have developed an amusing and strong female character in New York that manages to continually keep the audience off balance. In the same realm of the geek-chic stylings of Wes Anderson and Spike Jonze, Baumbach chooses to twist this modern story into an unrecognisable narrative for most traditional audiences, which will relegate this quirky release to the independent theatres. Yet, Baumbach stays loyal to his unique method of story telling. 
        His recent muse, Greta Gerwig's off-the-wall style provides a multi-layered heroine that comes off as confident and worldly, but is willing to expose the vulnerabilities that permeate most of her life. Gerwig manages to challenge the status quo of today's female comedienne with fast paced and courageous dialogue. Of all this quirky film's performances, the unexpected shining star of the picture is Lola Kirke as the lonely college student, Tracy. Directing her through this coming of age journey, Baumbach chooses to keep her plain manner and look throughout the story. It is refreshing that there are no significant physical transformations for this character, just a realistic maturing process. Tracy goes through a specific stage of life for this lead character and changes, but remains true to her character. Her journey is bizarre and unlike anything else in the coming of age genre, but interestingly believable. When Tracy and Brooke are in the burrows of New York City, they seem to be at their best and fit comfortably into the cityscape. The same could be said about Mistress America, it will find its place in the burrows of the larger cities, but may find it hard to connect with mainstream audiences. 

REEL DIALOGUE: Some of the bigger considerations and questions from this film

        In amongst the quick dialogue and jumbled screenplay a key theme exposed, the need for personal identity. Tracy seems lost throughout the film, until she meets Brooke. The freshman writer describes her future 'life instructor' as, "A rare beauty that makes you want to look like yourself." This transition shows the importance of mentors in our lives. Key individuals who represent all that we aspire to be in our lives and those people that are willing to invest in our future. Brooke is far from being an ideal role-model, but she represents the very thing we all desire to have come into our life, an accessible hero. Someone to look up to, someone to emulate and maybe even someone that we envy. This is one of the considerations that the gospel accounts in the Bible address by providing the one and only role-model that will not fail. 


1. What is sacrificial love? (John 15:13, Ephesians 5:25)
2. Is life mysterious? (Colossians 2:1-3, Matthew 13:11-13)
3. Does God care about my dreams? (Jeremiah 29:11, Proverbs 16:3)

Leaving the cinema...
Director Norm Baumbach is an acquired taste with his 'geek-chic' style. Like a modern gastronomy dining experience, you go in expecting one thing and coming out experiencing something completely different.  It is not bad, but it will take an adjustment in expectation for most audiences. Mistress America is ideal for students of film making and independent theatre owners. 

Film Trailer 

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews #mistressamerica