For Reel

Mistress America (2015)
September 13, 2015, 11:22 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Noah Baumbach
5 Stars
Mistress AmericaA central prop that appears in the Connecticut mansion which becomes the setting of Mistress America’s take on the drawing room comedy is a chess board. It’s as utilized as any image in the cinema, but one that seems just right in Noah Baumbach’s latest. For one, the relationship between Tracy Fishko (Lola Kirke) and Brooke Cardinas (Greta Gerwig) plays as lengthy feeling-out process before tensions start to come to a boil. The women are both polar opposites and soul-sisters, eventually coming to despise each other for the exact same qualities that they themselves are guilty of. Furthermore, said drawing room comedy is a terrific feat of blocking unlike anything Baumbach has committed to screen thus far. Each movement and line is meticulously calibrated–the pregnant woman waiting on a ride (Cindy Cheung) and the suspicious neighbor (Dean Wareham) are included both as witnesses and as pieces to crowd and confuse the action all the more. As with Hollywood’s classic screwball comedies, the dialogue is spit fast and often two or more conversations are happening at once, each line is spoken with a barbed layer of resentment, and the carefree, upperclass setting only underscores the frivolity of it all.

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