Ever wonder what happens to those really popular, beautiful girls from high school? You know the ones…the cheerleaders, glee club standouts, valedictorians? Those girls who made you feel guilty for having a brain or mocked you because they thought your hair, clothes or just presence was a waste of space? In other words…the mean girls who didn’t even KNOW they were being mean?
Personally, I could care less. What I do wonder about is how they navigated in the REAL world with such a narrow, shallow view of life. Well, I’m happy to report that Mistress America, a comedy about dream-chasing, score-settling, makeshift families and cat-stealing gives us a up-close, personal view of one of those chicks…Brooke.
Brooke’s (Greta Gerwig) flurry of self-invention seems painfully transparent — but not, at first, to Tracy (newcomer Lola Kirke), a freshman in her first semester at Barnard College whose divorcee mom (Kathryn Erbe) is about to marry Brooke’s widower dad. The two prospective stepsisters meet in Times Square, where Gerwig has a fantabulous entrance, sashaying down the red steps behind the TKTS booth like a star in the reality series of her mind.
Tracy, an aspiring writer who’s having a tough time fitting in at school (“It’s like being at a party where you don’t know anybody, all the time,” she laments), is fascinated at Brooke, who already feels over-the-hill at 30, By the time their first night together is over, the beginnings of a short story have begun to weave in Tracy’s mind.
When these characters (along with Matthew Shear as Tracy’s tightly wound classmate and Jasmine Cephas-Jones as his ridiculously jealous girlfriend) end up together en route to Connecticut, a desperate Brooke hopes to secure investment funds for her restaurant from her ex-friend/roommate, (Heather Lind) whom she claims stole her idea for a line of designer T-shirts and her fiancee.
What ensues is a rapid-fire comedic procession of perfectly timed entrances, exits and outlandish complications (nosy neighbors, pregnant women, group literary criticism) that builds. It’s dazzling and Gerwig (star and co-screenwriter with Noah Baumbach) does a spectacular job of bringing the many different complexities and layers of Brooke to life. I laughed so hard, I literally gave myself a headache!
Mistress America was pure, unadulterated comedy at its best and you won’t want to miss this one when it eventually hits theaters later this year. It was one of the first films of Sundance 2015 to secure a distribution deal with Fox Searchlight Pictures (which released the film on September 4th). Noah Baumbach directed from a script he co-wrote with Greta Gerwig and the film is produced by Baumbach, Scott Rudin, Lila Yacoub, Rodrigo Teixera and Gerwig. Teixera’s RT Features financed Mistress America.