Mistress America

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Mistress America
Mistress America.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNoah Baumbach
Produced by
Written by
  • Noah Baumbach
  • Greta Gerwig
Music by
CinematographySam Levy
Edited byJennifer Lame
RT Features
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures
Release date
  • January 24, 2015 (2015-01-24) (Sundance)
  • August 14, 2015 (2015-08-14) (United States)
Running time
84 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$3.3 million[2]

Mistress America is a 2015 American comedy film directed by Noah Baumbach. It was written by Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, and stars Gerwig and Lola Kirke. The film was released on August 14, 2015, by Fox Searchlight Pictures.


College freshman Tracy Fishko is having trouble adjusting to college life at Barnard. She eventually meets and befriends a fellow student, Tony, and even develops a crush on him, but when he begins dating another girl called Nicolette, she feels alone again. On her mother's advice, she contacts her soon-to-be stepsister Brooke, who also lives in New York.

Tracy is immediately entranced by Brooke and her lifestyle. After spending a whirlwind night with her, she pens a short story and submits it to her college's prestigious literary magazine. Tracy continues to spend time with Brooke, who reveals her plans for a small and eclectic restaurant called Mom's after her dead mother; the restaurant is being financed by her partner. Upon returning home one night, however, Brooke finds herself locked out of her apartment and discovers that her boyfriend has withdrawn financial support. With massive bills for the restaurant coming due, Brooke visits a psychic with Tracy. Tracy interprets the psychic's words as meaning that Brooke should ask for the money from her former friend Mamie-Claire, with whom she had a falling-out after Mamie-Claire stole her idea for a business and married her former fiancé.

Tracy has Tony drive her and Brooke to Mamie-Claire's home in Connecticut, with Nicolette joining them to make sure that Tony and Tracy are not having an affair. At Mamie-Claire's home, Brooke and the others crash Mamie-Claire's book party, and Brooke pitches her restaurant to Mamie-Claire, hoping she will invest. Mamie-Claire, who confides to Tracy that she did steal Brooke's T-shirt idea to become rich, insists that she will have to talk to her husband, Dylan. While waiting for Dylan's arrival, Brooke takes a call from her father, who informs her that his wedding with Tracy's mother has been called off. When Dylan comes home, rather than dismiss Brooke, he asks her to pitch her restaurant. Brooke stumbles, but Tracy, still enthused by the project, helps her to pitch it. Dylan tells Brooke he will give her the money but insists that, rather than invest in it, he will give it to her to cover the debt she will have from dissolving the business. Seeing that Tracy is upset by this, and also the toxic effect the offer is immediately having on Dylan and Mamie-Claire's relationship, Brooke ultimately refuses the money. Meanwhile, Nicolette, who witnessed Tracy kissing Tony, confronts Tracy about her short story. The entire party reads it, and Brooke becomes offended by the brutal way in which Tracy characterized her. She informs her that they are no longer about to become sisters, as their parents no longer want to marry, and tells Tracy that she will sue. Upset, Tracy, sitting outside the house, takes a hit on the bong that Tony had earlier fashioned from an apple with her initial emblazoned on it, smoking weed that he had presumably stolen from Dylan's freezer.

Tracy's story is accepted by the university's prestigious literary society, and for a while she joins the group. Still finding herself unable to fit in, she decides to start her own literary club, inviting both Tony and Nicolette to apply for membership.

Finding herself alone on Thanksgiving, Tracy goes to Brooke's old apartment and finds her packing her things, about to move to Los Angeles. She learns that Brooke was able to cover her debts, as Mamie-Claire gave her what would have been her share of money from the T-shirt business. Brooke also tells her that she has passed the SAT and that she has been accepted into college and is considering going. Tracy invites Brooke to have Thanksgiving dinner with her. The two eat out at a restaurant, as the film concludes with Tracy, as narrator, musing: "Being a beacon of hope for lesser people is a lonely business."



The film's musical score was composed by Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, who had previously collaborated with Baumbach on The Squid and the Whale.[3] A soundtrack album was released on August 14, 2015, by Milan Records.[4]


On January 9, 2015, Fox Searchlight Pictures acquired worldwide distribution rights for the film.[5] Mistress America premiered on January 24, 2015, at the Sundance Film Festival,[6][7] and was released in the United States on August 14, 2015.[8] The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States on December 1, 2015.[9]


The film received positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 81% of 180 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 7.35/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Mistress America brings out the best in collaborators Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, distilling its star's charm and director's dark wit into a ferociously funny co-written story."[10] On Metacritic, it holds a 75 out of 100 rating based on 42 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[11] Variety's review from Sundance read "Greta Gerwig shines in a tailor-made role in her and Noah Baumbach's spirited screwball follow-up to Frances Ha."[12]

The central screwball-comedy section set in the Connecticut mansion divided critics. While conceding that the film's ending "resolves things on a basically satisfying, quasi-poignant note," Todd McCarthy in The Hollywood Reporter stated that the "inconsistency of the approach overall, combined with Gerwig's maximum voltage performance, is disconcerting, even off-putting".[13] Amy Nicholson, writing for LA Weekly, praised the casting of the section, and in particular the performance of Heather Lind, but found that the "clumsy" sequence "stops the movie cold".[14] On the other hand, Peter Bradshaw, writing in The Guardian, praised the "outrageously farcical and funny extended sequence."[15] For Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times, the "neo-screwball" sequence exemplified the film's themes of love, art, and betrayal; he called the film "funny, witty, joyous, mischievous and casually profound."[16]


  1. ^ "MISTRESS AMERICA (15)". British Board of Film Classification. July 8, 2015. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  2. ^ "Mistress America (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  3. ^ "Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips Score Noah Baumbach's 'Mistress America'". Exclaim!. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  4. ^ "'Mistress America' Soundtrack Details". Film Music Reporter. July 22, 2015. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  5. ^ McNary, Dave (January 9, 2015). "Sundance: Fox Searchlight Buys Noah Baumbach Comedy 'Mistress America'". Variety. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  6. ^ "First Mistress America Image from Noah Baumbach's New Film, Plus Other Sundance 2015 Images". Collider. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  7. ^ Kevin Jagernauth (December 8, 2014). "First Look: Noah Baumbach's 'Mistress America' Starring Greta Gerwig, Plot Details Revealed". The Playlist. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  8. ^ "Mistress America (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
  9. ^ "Mistress America Blu-ray". dvdsreleasedates.com. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  10. ^ "Mistress America". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  11. ^ "Mistress America". Metacritic. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  12. ^ "'Mistress America' Review: Baumbach and Gerwig's Spirited Screwball Comedy". Variety. January 25, 2015. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  13. ^ "'Mistress America': Film Review". Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  14. ^ "Greta Gerwig Storms Through Noah Baumbach's Mistress America". Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  15. ^ "Mistress America review – anxieties of youth and middle age on a wave of zane". Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  16. ^ "Mistress America — film review". Retrieved April 13, 2016.

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