Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, the crack-pot team behind "Frances Ha," have proven their delightful screwball talents once more with "Mistress America," which premiered Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival. The film is a dreamy and idiosyncratic comedy about two enigmatic soon-to-be stepsisters who are just trying to figure out how they fit in the world,
One, Tracy (Lola Kirke, who audiences might remember from a bit part in "Gone Girl") is an introspective Barnard freshman and aspiring writer who can't seem to find any friends. The other, Brooke (Gerwig), is a 30-year-old romantic and striver who lives in her own alluring, albeit delusional, reality.
Everything changes for Tracy when she enters Brooke's intoxicating world. She even begins to use Brooke as an inspiration for a short story about a tragic aging dreamer, "Mistress America."
But plot is almost beside the point. The inspired situational and physical comedy, sharp, witty dialogue and synthy music propel the story forward as the characters get into stranger and stranger situations.
"I was thinking of these movies from when I was a teenager in the '80s, almost like a subgenre of movies of people who get taken out of their comfortable lives and put into sort of strange environments," said Baumbach
"Like 'Something Wild' and 'After Hours,' like 'I'm being pulled into this crazy thing...and there's a motorcycle!'" added Gerwig.
Gerwig brings her signature quirky but effortless charm to Brooke, and Kirke more than holds her own in her first big role, with the help of an excellent supporting cast (Michael Chernus, Matthew Shear, Jasmine Cephas Jones, to name a few).
Baumbach fans will not be disappointed, but the movie, like Brooke, exists in its own universe, and might not be for everyone.
Lindsey Bahr, http://www.twitter.com/ldbahr