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 ...1