A Necessary Study of “Mistress America”

While Xavier Dolan is one of the few directors from my generation that is actually doing something in the art world, Noah Baumbach is the only director who is actually talking about my generation itself. The movie Men, Women and Children tried to talk about the effect of modern technology in our society nowadays, but couldn’t capture the essence of the millennials – the generation who were born between 1980’s to the early 2000’s. But if you think about it, who can actually capture it since no one fully understands it?

Being a 22 year-old recent graduate from college working in a movie theater to save money to travel more, I’ve spent the last year of my life wondering if what I’m doing is right. I look at people I know from 18 to 27 years old and they are not facing a present or future very different from mine. My parents got jobs when they were 13 in a time where it was common to get married at 20 and have your first child at 23. That was twenty years ago and nowadays the millennials live in a society where we suffer from the pressure of actually doing something with our lives and having to face decisions in a world where future is uncertain, expensive and yet full of possibilities and opportunities. Technology made the world so small, fast e practicable that one person can actually be a blogger for the rest of their lives and be financially successful if they are doing it right. And that’s exactly what Noah Baumbach is talking about.

The inspiration to write this review, which is something I haven’t done in a long time, is because of his latest movie, Mistress America, that was also written by the amazing Greta Gerwig, being the second collaboration between them since the movie Frances Ha.

After creating a modern digital Manhattan in Frances Ha by showing my generation through the life of an expiring girl who wants to keep reality up to her imagination of what kind of movie her life is going to be like, Noah Baumbach wrote and directed While We’re Young, that puts two generations side by side: the generation who just turned 40 and the one who just turned 20. While one tries to keep up with the modern technology and tries to be cool, the younger generation filters back what used to be cool during the 60’s to 80’s, collecting vinyls, reading old books and buying clothes at thrift shops. But which one is truly original and is living life at its best?

In Mistress America, Noah Baumbach, along with Greta Gerwig, follow this anthology they have created since Frances Ha by presenting two girls: a 18-year-old who doesn’t know who she is and falls in love with everything that is interesting and cool, and a 30-year-old who is obsessed with herself but can’t make it through the world because of how the world offers so many possibilities and how easy is to drop one thing that isn’t finished to start a new one.

Is important to know that I’m not putting my generation as victims here, but through this movie, Baumbach and Gerwig presents a study that almost no one has ever done it before. And despite that is a very weird comedy, Mistress America is the most interesting and realistic reading of my generation. We kind of don’t know who we are – like the 18-year-old but – but we kind of think we are awesome and possibly “the voice of our generation”, like the 30-year-old. Also, Lena Dunham must be mentioned here for using the same quote in “Girls”, the HBO show that I believe it’s very similar to those Baumbach movies.

But why are they so interesting anyway? Because we don’t know what the fuck is going on and we really don’t know how to tell our parents that we have no absolutely fucking idea of what we are doing with our lives. Maybe they also didn’t know when they were 20’s, but this is a modern world that they don’t get it, and we don’t get it as well. And Noah Baumbach makes fun of it by taking his characters in Mistress America to see a psych to know what to do after a financial plan went wrong! And yes, technology made it worst, because we have access to everything and anything but we don’t actually know what to do with all this information.

I’m not here to cry for how misunderstood we are, though. I’m saying this because we want to live longer and better and that’s why Noah Baumbach movies are so amazing. Because by portraying my generation he also says always the same thing at the end: no matter what you do or don’t do, just be yourself and keep going. The world today is too fast, too accessible and too small. We don’t have the perfect job at 20’s, get marry, have children and grow old. We are the generation who has the possibility and opportunity to explore, to make mistakes and start again. And that’s what I try to tell myself every single day of my weird 20’s life.