Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mistress America

A noted trait amongst various Noah Baumbach films is that there isn't a single likable character among the roster. The noted exception is Frances Ha but with other titles like The Squid and the Whale, you find yourself fighting the urge to punch those characters in the face.

So what's the situation with Baumbach's latest Mistress America? Perhaps to no one's surprise, many of the characters throughout rub you the wrong way. Though perhaps that's Baumbach's intention. People aren't perfect (far from it), and he wants to highlight each and every flaw that's humanly possible.

One has to admit that even with this regular feature, Baumbach knows how to write complex characters. (Mistress America was co-written with star Greta Gerwig.) He and Gerwig don't sugarcoat any detail within the characters' lives though there's a tendency to glorify the bad more than the good. And what appears to be the makings of the now-overused manic pixie dream girl archetype is promptly destroyed as the film wears on.

And the work from Gerwig and Lola Kirke prove that there are well-written roles for actresses if writers are up for the task. (Often times they aren't.) Honestly, we live in an era where progress for equality is still ongoing. You'd think by now there would be better opportunities for women in various fields of profession. (Guess not.)

Anyway, back to Mistress America. It's no Frances Ha but it does have its moments. The dialogue's quick pace is reminiscent of Howard Hawks and the characters' antics could be likened to those in your average Ernst Lubitsch film. It's nothing groundbreaking but Mistress America is certainly worth a look.

My Rating: ****

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