Growing up is overrated. It can be exciting and limitless while also terrifying and discouraging. One gets a better sense of that paradox after viewing “Mistress America,” Noah Baumbach’s latest film released on Aug. 14, 2015.
As a 20-something female living in close proximity to Manhattan and searching for a respectable status in society, “Mistress America” is highly relatable. The subtle humor and endless banter between the two main characters, Tracy and Brooke, offers one hour and 26 minutes of entertainment.
The film opens as Tracy Fishko (Lola Kirke) begins her freshman year at Barnard College. The first year of college can be an uphill battle for anyone, but it gets a little better for 18-year-old Tracy when she meets her future stepsister, Brooke (Greta Gerwig).
An aspiring writer seeking to join the elite literary society at her school, Tracy spends the first few days of school making friends with a classmate named Tony and the two set out to write a story interesting enough to ensure their admission to the society.
With Tracy’s mother about to marry Brooke’s father, Tracy decides to reach out to Brooke for some guidance. Twelve years older and more experienced in navigating the streets of New York, Brooke immediately takes Tracy under her wing. She introduces her to an active nightlife and the responsibilities of a young woman.
Brooke’s influence inspires Tracy’s impressionable mind to write a short story about her and her quest to start a restaurant called “Mom’s” in Williamsburg. The story titled “Mistress America” uses fictional names, but follows a path similar to that of Brooke’s life.
Throughout the film, it is obvious that Brooke is all over the place. She takes on a wide variety of odd jobs, such as tutoring and interior design. But, the one thing she plans to follow through with is starting the restaurant. When her boyfriend and business partner breaks up with her, the only obstacles in Brooke’s way are money and a fast approaching deadline.
As Tracy chronicles Brooke’s endeavors in her short story, her friend Tony finds himself with an overprotective girlfriend, Nicolette. The dynamic duo accompanies Tracy and Brooke to Mamie-Claire’s house in search of a sizeable investment. Mamie-Claire, Brooke’s former best friend, is married to Brooke’s ex-lover, Dylan, who happens to be incredibly wealthy.
In an effort to gain Dylan’s financial support, Brooke pitches her intentions for the restaurant and emphasizes her deadline situation. Brooke’s presence creates drama between Mamie-Claire and Dylan, while Tracy interferes with the stability of Tony and Nicolette’s relationship.
Fortunately for the viewer, Greta Gerwig, who plays Brooke, had a hand in writing and producing “Mistress America.” Her interpretation of Brooke onscreen keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, waiting to see if she will actually be able to follow through on her restaurant endeavor.
The relationship between Tracy and Brooke is a realistic depiction of how two young women make a home out of New York City. In an interview with AOL Build, Greta Gerwig said, “I’ve never really lost the feeling of New York being the ultimate city of dreams,” and that statement shines through in the script, soundtrack and cinematography of this film.