Brow Beat

Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig Revisit Aimless New York City Artists in Mistress America

Lola Kirke and Greta Gerwig.

Still from YouTube

Noah Baumbach’s latest movie, Mistress America, has a plot that will seem familiar to anyone who’s seen his work: an artsy college student (Lola Kirke) befriends her artsy, soon-to-be stepsister (Greta Gerwig), and the two proceed to engage in artsy navel-gazing about life, love, and generational ennui (“Must we document ourselves all the time? Must we?”).

Baumbach skeptics will eye-roll at the trailer, but the director’s obsession with self-absorbed types is too often mistaken for adulation: overlooked are his eye for upper-crust ironies, his ear for acidic dialogue, and his strong grasp of the corrosive edges that fray neurotic, privileged personalities. That’s the positive spin, of course—the negative one, if you’re so inclined, is that this movie is pretty much Frances Ha fast-forwarded 10 years. But I’m on board, if only to delight in Gerwig’s sui generis sensibilty and off-kilter comic timing. Mistress America is out Aug. 14.