Mistress America (Blu-ray)

December 5, 2016 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Mistress America is the latest film by acclaimed director and writer Noah Baumbach. It was cowritten by Greta Gerwig who costars in the film. This is the third collaboration on screen between Gerwig and Baumbach. He directed her in Greenberg, and then they wrote the fantastic Frances Ha together. I am an avid fan of Baumbach’s work, so I was excited to dig in and watch his latest.

College freshman Tracy Fishko (Lola Kirke) can’t seem to catch a break. She can’t seem to find a solid group of friends and is not quite comfortable enough with herself to go to random parties. She meets the shy Tony (Matthew Shear) and it seems like they might end up dating, but he instead chooses to date a girl that they had both dismissed intellectually from one of their classes. Having very few friends in New York, Tracy phones her mother who recommends that she call her fiance’s daughter, Brooke (Greta Gerwig.) Tracy and Brooke’s parents are planning to get married on Thanksgiving. Out of loneliness, Tracy phones Brooke and immediately becomes wrapped up in her life. Brooke is in her thirties and an extremely busy mess of a person. She lives in a commercially zoned apartment, her off-and-on boyfriend lives in Greece, she teaches a Soul Cycle class, and she wants to open a restaurant. Tracy immediately becomes attached to Brooke and they become close friends, but Tracy also is using Brooke’s life as the basis for her writing.

The new film by Baumbach, while not as over-the-top fantastic as the black-and-white Frances Ha, is another solid entry in his very consistent career. It plays it fairly safe and has a few predictable moments that make it basically a three star movie instead of four stars, but I enjoyed it. Greta Gerwig is great as Brooke, bringing a lot of manic energy to the role. Lola Kirke is solid in the role of Tracy even though she looks a little bit older than a freshman. The first two thirds of the film are somewhat stronger than the last third in my opinion, but I really have no complaints. This is easily one of Baumbach’s more easily accessible films and it comes recommended.

Video: How’s it look?

With a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and MPEG-4 AVC encoding, this film looks fantastic on Blu-ray. Due to the film being completely shot on digital and a pure transfer there is no trace of any compression issues or any problems whatsoever. While not as visually extraordinary as Frances Ha, there is still a lot to enjoy here. Clarity and attention to detail are excellent, and the film is very well shot. Baumbach is incredibly capable at photographing New York and continues to do solid work here. Visually the film is in line with what you would expect from Baumbach’s work.

Audio: How’s it sound?

This is a solid audio track that uses the surrounds effectively to bring out the synth score by Brittany Philips and Dean Wareham. This score is enjoyable and fits right into the world that these characters inhabit. There is not much in the way of immersion here because the film is essentially dialogue driven, but the environments that the characters inhabit are given the correct sound design whether at a party or an apartment. There are no audio drop-outs or anomalies that I could detect. This was essentially reference quality and nobody should have any problem with the track.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Promotional Featurettes – a trio of very short EPKs focusing on the subjects in their heading:
    • Story
    • Brooke
    • Tracy
  • Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer

The Bottom Line

Mistress America is another enjoyable film by Baumbach and Gerwig. It is capably written and directed. It’s only real failing is not outperforming Frances Ha, which will be compared directly with it. It plays it a little bit safe and the final act is not quite as enjoyable as the build-up, but it is still a good movie that I am glad to own. The Blu-Ray has great technical merits but the lack of supplements was a but disappointing. For Baumbach fans this is a no brainer and comes recommended.

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