Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Noah Baumbach's Second film in 2015
By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay
Ok, so I haven't watched "Margot at the Wedding" or the "Squid and the Whale", since I said I would, after declaring Noah Baumbach one of my favorite writer/directors based on my enjoyment of "Greenberg", "Frances Ha" and "While We're Young". Believe it or not, I don't watch very many movies at home, but those films are next on my queue.
I did get to see Baumbach's latest, which hit theaters August 29th - MISTRESS AMERICA. Like "Greenberg" & "Frances Ha" this film features actress Greta Gerwig. I've heard the detractors that say Gerwig can only play the same type of character; but what about actors like Sylvester Stallone and Diane Keaton, they've always played themselves with slight variations, and they've been lauded for it their whole careers.
In Mistress America, Gerwig is Gerwig, which I enjoy, but she's less the protagonist and more of a muse for Tracy, played by relative newcomer Lola Kirke (Gone Girl), who I was told is the sister to Jemima Kirke, the pretty one, Jessa, on the TV show Girls.
Quick T&T Synopsis: Tracy is a freshman studying creative writing at Barnard Columbia University in New York. She's not a nerd or super intellectual, she's just a bit unsure of herself, yet very smart. Her mother is getting married to someone she met online and hasn't been seeing very long. This guy also has a daughter living in New York, Brooke (Gerwig). Tracy's mother suggests she call Brooke and get to know her before the upcoming Thanksgiving wedding.
It's kinda love at first site for Tracy when she meets Brooke, not in a sexual or even stalking way - rather, she's fascinated by Brooke's big personality, the people she hangs out with, her ability to throw herself into different pursuits and dreams, which currently is opening up a restaurant called Mom's which will be more than a place to eat, but rather a neighborhood sanctuary, where one can even get their hair cut - in the same place serving food !?! All of this, along with Brooke's not so admirable qualities, inspires Tracy to want to capture Brooke as a character in a short story she plans to submit to an uppity literary society on campus.
The film has vastly different moods and tones. It starts out pretty standard, but by the time Brooke, Tracy, Tracy's crush, and his girlfriend drive to Connecticut to try and convince Brooke's old nemesis and her husband, who used to be Brooke's boyfriend, to invest in the restaurant, the movie works itself up into almost a full blown farce, with entrances and exits, characters talking over each other, confronting each other and making absurd statements. I enjoyed the different levels, but I imagine some critics will take issue.
Bottom line: It's similar to Frances Ha in that it once again explores the desperation felt by some women nearing 30 or in their early 30's who haven't quite found their place yet. Their lives aren't settled, a lot centers around finances or lack of them, and trying to hold on to the belief they'll someday get it together, meet the right guy, be a success, and really start living, rather than constantly reaching and looking. All themes of which I can relate, all too well. 30 seems to soon to feel this degree of desperation, but perhaps if I had panicked much earlier, my reaching and looking days could be a thing of the past.
Food in Film: Tracy's pasta purchase panic
Great line: "I'm so annoyed with Spirit right now"
T &T's LAMB Score: 4 outta 5
Tinsel & Tine (Reel & Dine): Philly Film, Food & Events Blog