Hilarious, awkward, honest and occasionally even relatable, Greta Gerwig is a thoroughly modern Mistress America.

Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig aren’t Hollywood’s golden couple; they’re much to cool for such a routine accolade. The director and his co-writer and star have teamed up again for Mistress America. If you liked Frances Ha and While We’re Young, then you’ll love this. If not, give it a wide berth.

Mistress America plays on similar themes in an identical setting (New York City) to the pair’s previous pairings: youth pitted against age, the battle of growing-up, independence or lack thereof, friendship and the elusiveness of coolness. But Mistress America and its characters are infinitely more likeable than some of their predecessors and just as engaging.

Mistress America movie poster
Lola Kirke plays Tracy, an ambitious, intelligent but awkward freshman student who’s come to New York for college, but can’t quite find where she fits in. She meets Brooke (Gerwig) who is to become her stepsister, and out of true affection and equal desperation they hit it off. Tracy is fascinated by Brooke, who juggles spin-instructing, tutoring, freelancing as an interior decorator and restaurateur aspirations; she’d also love to get into the app business – but who wouldn’t?

I’m in love with everything but can’t figure out how to make myself work in the world,” she explains.

Naturally she impresses Tracy, a budding writer and unbeknownst to Brooke, she inspires her to write a short story. It’s only partially flattering: “She did everything and nothing,” Tracy writes.

Things get hectic when Tracy, Brooke and an entourage of college kids head to Connecticut to confront Tracy’s ex-best friend and ex-boyfriend, who are now married, over a stolen business idea. This section is chaotic, climatic and extended, but it works. It’s light-hearted, ridiculous, often uncomfortably awkward – as is a lot of the film – and poignant.

Mistress America has a lot going on, little of which is superfluous, but it’s really about façade, front and pretence. In typical millennial fashion, musing in a bar, Brooke wishes she lived in primitive times when people were happy with their lot in life. Yes, she’s hilarious, laughable even, but there’s certainly an authenticity to the character and sometimes she’s even somewhat, dare I say it, relatable.

Still from Mistress America
Mistress America movie still
At select cinemas.


the thin grey line

All photos via IMDb


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