A film about female friendship with very little romance, I should love it! But I don’t – 2/5
Director: Noah Baumbach
Screenplay: Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach
Starring: Lola Kirke, Greta Gerwig, Matthew Shear, Michael Chernus
Length: 1 hour 26 minutes
It’s inevitable that the second film written by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach would be compared to their first, the acclaimed Frances Ha. This was unfortunate as while watching Mistress America the comparison to the far superior film probably made me enjoy it less than I otherwise would have.
Tracy (Lola Kirke) is finding it difficult to settle into life at college. Lonely, she follows he mothers suggestion and rings her soon to be step sister Brooke (Greta Gerwig), the daughter of the man her mum is soon to marry. Tracy becomes enraptured with Brooke with her mix of innocent and worldly charm and her busy, eclectic lifestyle.
I really wanted to like this film. Lola Kirke makes a compelling protagonist with a fairly nuanced performance as Tracy that draws you into her character and implies a life lived outside the film, I wish she’d had a chance to really flesh the character out more onscreen. Greta Gerwig is always the star of any scene she’s in and she is fine as Brooke. The problem is Brooke is not particularly likeable. Tracy’s obsession with her as this fountain of life and wisdom and uniqueness seems unfounded. While Frances had many faults, her charm and unique view of life were genuine. Brooke’s characteristics however seem constructed and she mainly comes off as a selfish, whiny rich kid upset that no-one can see how brilliant she is. Possibly this was the intention, that we could see what Tracy couldn’t. But I think their needed to be something more so we could understand why Tracy would fall so heavily in love with Brooke. The scene near the end where Tracy’s mum visits her after she’s broken up with Brooke’s dad and Tracy cries and says that she’s been through a breakup too is the most touching part of the film. Possible it implies Tracy really was romantically in love with Brooke, but it could also be a reminder of the power of friendships and that breaking from one is as upsetting as a romantic break up.
The thing that really drew me out of the film was the dialogue style.Where in Frances Ha the mumblecore dialogue felt natural this did not.The quickpaced non emotional dialogue was too much, it felt completely unnatural, was not funny where it felt like it was trying to be, and completely sucked out the emotion of the film.
I wanted to love this film because we need more films like this, about friendship and especially female friendship, but sadly this didn’t do it for me.