Mistress America (2015)

Directed by Noah Baumbach

Tracy, a lonely college freshman in New York, is rescued from her solitude by her soon-to-be stepsister Brooke, an adventurous gal about town who entangles her in alluringly mad schemes.

Moments of pure wide-eyed recognition within far too many sequences that, with their "loudly project to the back of the auditorium" stage school voice and clichéd 1950s physical stage blocking techniques when trading lines, were all just a little bit too capital-T Theatre. And referencing Tennesee Williams during the worst of those scenes isn't enough of a commentary on, I dunno, the way that New Yorkers drink from the firehose of their own ideology.


During a road trip to Greenwich, Connecticut, where Brooke plans to cadge money from an old friend who’s married rich. The movie grinds to a halt as what had been a sharp-eyed campus tale turns into a baggy, failed screwball farce. The script gets stagy, the jokes fall flat, and the manic pacing doesn’t make up the difference. Baumbach has always composed angular, complex dialogue, and has always managed to neatly walk the tightrope between juicy and overwritten. But here the lines get run-on, a little too packed with pretension, and become uncomfortably chewy mouthfuls for his actors. [Yet] there are chuckle-inducing moments toward the end of this Connecticut sojourn, when the banter gets flouncier and the mood nearly achieves liftoff

Seth Stevenson (Salon)