Movie Review: Mistress America

2Tracy is a college freshman, 18 and an outcast in society. She wears drab brown clothes and though she is obviously very pretty and intelligent, she is shy and doesn’t seem to exert herself. Being a freshman in New York, from her point of view is interesting, as we never actually see any of New York, or the sites we are used to seeing. She is an alien in the most iconic capital in the world.

3Tracy meets her step-sister-to-be Brooke! When we first see Brooke she is standing on the staircase in Times Square, our first introduction to New York ‘proper’. Brooke is blonde, tall, wears nice clothes but as she walks down the stairs towards Tracy, it is a bit awkward, we’re waiting on her and nothing can change until she decides it will. Even Brooke’s entrance into the scene is notable, she shouts Tracy’s name, so we hear her before we see her and can attest she is ‘one of those girls’.

7Then the movie ‘starts’, we’re taken in a whirlwind to people, places, thoughts and ideas, but Brooke is contrived, narcissistic, strange. She talks a million miles an hour and almost everything Tracy has to say Brooke is doing or done or tried out; Tracy says she has an idea for a story and Brooke claims she does too, but doesn’t tell Tracy in case she wants to use it ‘later’. When later? When is Brooke realistically going to sit down and type out this story idea and make millions?

4They dance awkwardly while talking and when Brooke tweets something she says tweet and twitter too many times to be comfortable. Brooke is trying to show off as the ‘hip’ 30-something in NYC, connected to the world around her; and though you know she is ‘bulling’ you, you almost believe her and take her side.

Brooke talks like someone who is 18, which is why Tracy likes her so much, but Brooke has added years, added information and life advice like ‘be yourself’. It’s only until we get to a scene where Brooke comes across an old school person that we really see her.

In the scene Brooke clearly has no idea who this woman is; but pretends she does and then laughs at the nasty5 things she used to do in high school to this girl. When the woman gets annoyed Brooke clearly states “who cares, why are you holding a grudge from so long ago, get on with your life.” Harsh but true statements, no one should hold on to hating someone you may probably never meet again. We see Brooke in this light, fiery and telling it like it is, but then she goes back to being contrived.

As the girls hang out more Tracy begins to write the story Mistress America about ‘Meadow’. Repetition is always something to be deemed suspicious. We may not see it yet but Brooke repeats a few statements – her mother is dead, her mortal enemy was her best friend who stole her flowery t-shirt idea and her fiance, she wants to open a restaurant that is a shop and a hairdressers, and she’s really into social media.

Each statement is loaded. Brookes’ mother is dead and that is why her father is dating Tracy’s dad. Any time an instance comes up where Brooke needs to be interesting or head of the conversation, she will mention her dead mother. This makes her impenetrable to anyone saying anything against her. Her best friend stole her t-shirts and her fiance, this adds to the tragedy in Brooke’s life and why she is an interior decorator, a gym class instructor, a singer in a band, a tutor, and trying to open a restaurant. It looks like Brooke is carefree and living life to the max in The Big Apple, but she’s actually trying to pay rent, which adds to her tragic life; that she has to have so many jobs because her million dollar idea was stolen!

Brooke wants to open a restaurant, it’s admirable and she dresses beautifully for a professional meeting, but when Tracy sees the space it’s hard to imagine the shop, restaurant, buffet-style hairdresser Brooke paints for her. The idea and place is a mess and Brooke does not know what she wants. She wants something, but she doesn’t know how to cook or run a business; she’s jack of all trades and really the master of nothing.

6This is the perfect comment on 20-40-somethings right now. Single people (male and female) who cannot figure out what the hell they want. They want to be hip and cool and go drinking, but they have no life goals, no direction. Tracy describes it in her story as ‘Meadow carrying around the carcass of her youth’. This term is brilliant, we have TV shows and movies like Sex and the City, New Girl, 2 Broke Girls, Girls, all these things that describe women as girls, when really they’re 30-somethings trying to act like college students.

Brooke has not grown up and figured ‘it’ out, and though life is hard to figure out, there must be some point where it clicks and you stop acting like you’re 18. This is a subtle brilliant comment on life as a single female in a city. Carrie Bradshaw may try to make it look amazing, but really she spends most of her time in anger and despair. Brooke’s ex-fiance even mentions how Brooke batted away proposals and men to live the life she wanted; but the reality is that Brooke wants to be a successful woman with a successful husband without even putting the work in.

Aisha Din

Aisha is a Newcastle born gal with a love of all media. Specialising in film, TV and comic books, she also has a flare for fashion and lifestyle. Aisha writes and analyses everything she is passionate about, getting into the deeper meaning of it all. You can find her blog at www.coconutreviews.co.uk and on twitter https://twitter.com/CoconutReviews