Much like Wes Anderson, writer/director Noah Baumbach is the kind of filmmaker whose movies you either love or hate. He gained notoriety for quirky comedies like The Squid and the Whale and Greenberg, and has since become a permanent fixture of the indie film scene. Following the success of his 2012 ‘young adults in crisis’ yarn Frances Ha, he discovered his very own muse in the form of actor/writer Greta Gerwig, and a new love for the city of New York. Now, having already this year banged out the Ben Stiller-starring While We’re Young, both Gerwig and the Big Apple feature once again in the director’s latest low budget effort, Mistress America.

So, is it any good?


For the record, I’ve actually been a fan of most of Baumbach’s work to date, and I take no pleasure in criticising any film, because I understand that even getting a movie made these days is an achievement in itself. However, nothing in the 84 minute running time of Mistress America convinced me that this movie needed to exist, and a lot of that has to do with its complete lack of any real plot.

Essentially it boils down to this: New York based literature student Tracy (Lola Kirke) is having trouble finding her muse, until one night she arranges a meet and greet with her future sister in law Brooke (Gerwig), whose quirky turn of phrase and unorthodox lifestyle suddenly awaken Tracy’s inner creativity. That’s pretty much it. Which might be okay, if it weren’t for the painfully self conscious dialogue and utterly one dimensional characters that feature throughout.

Brooke (Greta Gerwig) takes Tracy (Lola Kirke) under her wing in Mistress America.

I have no doubt that there is an audience out there for Mistress America; and if all you’re after is a cool soundtrack and the odd shot of hip New York neighborhoods, then this film may just be for you. But for the other 95% of cinema goers who appreciate things like ‘narrative drive’ and ‘character development’, this is barely worth even a free download.

MISTRESS AMERICA is released in Australian cinemas on Thursday October 29