About 20 minutes into Mistress America you realize that you’ve been strapped into a car and somebody’s ripped out the breaks. You’d bail, but there is something gloriously exhilarating about careening pell-mell down a hill, accelerating faster and faster until…well, you’re not quite sure because the ride’s too much fun to think about what’s at the end.
Mistress America is a delightful screwball comedy. It reminds you why it’s so hard to get a good screwball made today and makes you wish that a couple more people in Hollywood would just pull up their big-girl panties and get to work making more. The editing is fast paced, the characters are wonderful and the dialogue is a delightful rough-and-tumble mess.
The film is particularly poignant for a lot of us college students who, even though we might be seniors, are still kind of like the freshmen and sophomores of life. We’re adrift, lonely, looking for a place to fit in and stand out at the same time. We’re like Tracy, played by Lola Kirke, who’s just started going to college in New York.
Tracy’s mother is planning to marry a man she met online and with him comes a new sister, a woman named Brooke played by Greta Gerwig. While the story might be about Tracy, Brooke’s the main character all the way.
Brooke is Mistress America. And much like she captures Tracy, she enthralls the audience with her boundless scatterbrained energy. There is this sense that she’s not standing on anything but hasn’t figured out that she’s supposed to fall. So until somebody reminds gravity to do its job, she’s flying.
Mistress America has one of the best scenes I’ve seen in a long time. Leading up to the climax, the movie adds in great little bit parts into an already packed house. A lot of the characters really have no business being there, but that, combined with the sheer number of people they have managed to fit on screen, is hilarious. This scene could, really should, have been a bloated body train wreck, but the movie’s snappy dialog and breakneck speed keep things going like a 900 pound ballerina.
Slowly you come to realize that everyone on screen is an asshole. The best part of the movie is watching them all interact with each other. There is something very enjoyable about watching five or six jerks suffer through each other’s sarcastic needling jabs, quips and insinuations. Especially because none of the characters realize that they are assholes themselves. Now this isn’t to say that the characters are all the same; no, each character is a righteous D-bag in their own unique way.
Seriously, go see Mistress America. Actually see it twice, that way you can catch everything you missed on the first pass. It’s playing at Circle Cinema, just up the street. On Tuesday it’s two dollars for TU students.