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Laramie Movie Scope:
Mistress America

Desperately seeking Gerwig

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 12, 2015 -- This is one of those light, airy comedies about flaky, compelling women with some dramatic overtones that remind me of “Desperately Seeking Susan.” This film is even more like “Frances Ha,” for obvious reasons, since both films were directed by Noah Baumbach, both films star Greta Gerwig and both were co-written by Gerwig and Baumbach. If you liked one, you are going to like the other, and I like both.

Gerwig stars, along with Lola Kirke (“Gone Girl”) as a couple of sisters-to-be, Brooke and Tracy. Tracy's (Kirke) divorced mother plans to marry Brooke's (Gerwig) divorced father. Tracy is a college student in New York, whose only friend, fellow student Tony (played by Matthew Shear of “Taking Woodstock”) is in love with another girl, Nicolette (Jasmine Cephas Jones of “Titus”). Bored, Tracy reluctantly takes her mother's advice and calls Brooke, who lives in New York, and her life is upended when the two meet.

Tracy is captivated by the free spirit of the mercurial Brooke, who has a number of part time jobs, lives in an illegal apartment, and seems to know everybody. She has big plans for opening her own restaurant, but how realistic these plans are is hard to tell. Tracy begins to spend a lot more time with Brooke and begins to believe in the restaurant project, but there is a part of her that knows that Brooke is not capable of making this business successful.

Tracy is an aspiring writer. She is inspired to write a short story based on Brooke. In the story she writes that Brooke will not succeed in opening her own restaurant. Despite that, she arranges a trip with Brooke, Tony and Nicolette to visit Brooke's old boyfriend, Dylan (Michael Chernus of “Captain Phillips”) in hopes of securing a bridge loan for the cash-strapped restaurant project. The visit with Dylan becomes surrealistic when Dylan's jealous wife makes a scene and Nicolette, who is insanely jealous of Tony, sees Tracy kissing Tony.

Dylan, who seems like a real flake at first, turns out to be a businessman who sees the situation very clearly, and he offers to bail out Brooke, but only on the condition that the restaurant property be sold. He doesn't think that Brooke can run a restaurant, either, but he likes her and wants to help her out. Meanwhile, Nicolette discovers a copy of Tracy's short story about Brooke. Nicolette reveals the story to Brooke, who feels betrayed, causing a major emotional scene, fueled by Dylan's visiting neighbors who have their own comments about this situation. Other story developments add to the chaos.

The story is a lot of fluff, buoyed by the likeability of Gerwig who is perfectly suited to play this flaky free-spirited character. Playing a crazy character who is not too crazy is a kind of high wire act. Lola Kirke also gives a good performance as a young woman who thinks very highly of herself. The story is populated by quirky, colorful characters who seem to have nothing to do in their lives but keep this plot moving along, and they do that quite nicely. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2015 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)