Sundance Diary - Day 4: 'Mistress America' and 'Last Days in the Desert'

A screwball comedy about what we want and a small drama about Jesus.
Sundance Diary - Day 4: 'Mistress America' and 'Last Days in the Desert'
Image: RT Features
Greta Gerwig and Lola Kirke in ‘Mistress America’

You can also read diaries from day 1, day 2, and day 3.

Future festival-goers beware: day 4 is right about when fatigue starts to set in. When you close your eyes, you can kind of see the Sundance Film Festival bumper that plays before every movie behind your eyelids. But you've also started to lose all sense of time and space and meals and sleep. Life, as far as you know, will be a neverending cycle of watch, eat, coffee, watch, eat, sleep, rinse, repeat.

Fatigue nothwithstanding, I got myself down to the Library Theater to see Mistress America at 8:30am, and it was like a shot of caffeine straight to the bloodstream. Noah Baumbach's movies--Frances Ha, The Squid and the Whale, Kicking and Screaming, Margot at the Wedding, the not-yet-released While We're Young (which I saw at NYFF and loved)--are 100% white-people-problems movies. But those problems mostly stand-in as a cipher for larger things that plague a lot of people here in the late capitalist twenty-first century, like general ennui and existential crises and family dysfunction. The fact that these problems are acutely experienced and catalogued mostly by people with the privilege, means, and leisure to do so doesn't mean they are not worth making a movie about. And Baumbach always gently and sometimes affectionately skewers his characters, which means, in turn, he lets the mirror reflect us back to ourselves, our foolish griping about our problems coming into relief.Mistress America is his second collaboration with Greta Gerwig, the mumblecore star turned art-house darling with whom he wrote Frances Ha. This one stars Lola Kirke (who you can see in the very fun Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle) as Tracy, a college freshman at what is basically ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Watch This Way
How we watch matters at least as much as what we watch. TV and movies are more than entertainment: they teach us how to live and how to love one another, for better or worse. And they both mirror and shape our culture.
Alissa Wilkinson
Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn.
Previous Watch This Way Columns:
Tags:
Posted:
May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
close