Sundance 2015 Review: A Gerwig 2-fer

Yeah – I am cheating by mashing these two films together. Because quite frankly, they are very different in tone, location and theme. The only thing in common among these pieces is they both feature the talents of one Greta Gerwig.

So, without further ado, here are my thoughts and impressions of the film she has an extended cameo in (Eden) and her latest writer-director collaboration with filmmaker Noah Baumbach, Mistress America.

Eden (2014)
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Eden is filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve’s sprawling look with at the 90’s-00’s underground music scene in Paris, featuring a central performance by Félix de Givry as Paul, based on Hansen-Løve’s brother Sven (he shares screenwriting credit). The film chronicles his life as a garage-music DJ and is the story of a passion that seems to find a purpose and measured level of success until it no longer does.

If you are a fan of the music of the era, you are in for a treat as many of the artists from that era (including some very self-aware scenes involving the award-winning duo Daft Punk, Sven’s musical contemporaries). Another appearance of note is the ever delightful (to me anyways) Greta Gerwig as Paul’s American girlfriend who pops in and out of his life on a couple of occasions.

de Givry really stands out in his performance because, at the ripe old age of 20, he is tasked with portraying Paul at various ages, many that are unfamiliar to him, with him being so young and all.

The film accomplishes something else – while I am not a fan of this particular brand of music, Eden was able to keep my attention over its 131 minute running time – a running time that covers twenty years – seeing Paul go from an eager and ebullient teenager to a burnt out, seemingly lost man trying to find meaning in it all.

After its screening in Sundance (also played in Toronto, AFI and NYFF in 2014), Eden will be released this spring in cinemas.

French/English with subtitles

 

Mistress America (2014)
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In the (very recent) past I have been a little less-than-effusive in my response to Noah Baumbach’s work – but for some reason the combination of Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig is really working for me. Their 2012 effort, Frances Ha was a delight to watch. So I was really looking forward to seeing their latest collaboration Mistress America – and I was not disappointed.

Brooke’s (Gerwig) soon-to-be stepsister Tracy (played by newcomer Lola Kirke), is a Barnard College freshman and aspiring writer looking for a place to connect and belong vastness of the city. Brooke is a constant and determined dreamer who has her hand in a myriad of business schemes and creative pursuits. Almost instantly, she takes Tracy under her wing and welcomes her into her kaleidoscopic world.

What ensues is a somewhat Seinfeld-ian, dare I say surreal journey through New York City, showing them on parallel (and intersecting) journeys as they each seek to capture their own brass ring.

If you will feel a bit “meh” about what I just described – trust me, especially if you are a fan of Gerwig’s previous work, Mistress America is well worth checking out. There is something in Gerwig’s writing that makes the most absurd accessible, relatable and entertaining.

Mistress America will be distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures (actual release date TBD).

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Image Credits: Sundance Institute, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Comments

  1. I’m afraid I have yet to familiarize myself w/ Baumbach’s or Gerwig’s films, but I’m curious about Mistress America based on the positive reviews. I find Seinfeld amusing so that’s one thing to look forward to. Great stuff Iba!
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