Have you ever experienced that strong desire to be a part of something? To the point where you would do anything just to feel that sense of belonging? American Mistress explores this visceral need from the point of view of a lonely college student who just wants to be part of a literary society. Raise the bar on need from the perspective of a 30-year-old woman who wants to open a restaurant. Mix an unrealistic plot set in New York City, a script full of witty lines delivered in an overly feminine way, and infuriating background music, and you’ve got a coming-of-age dramaturgy.
The movie introduces us to Tracy Fishko (Lola Kirke), whose smooth, flat narration opens the movie with this line: She would say things like, “Isn’t every story a story of betrayal?” I did not think. That is not true. But I could never say that. I could only agree with her. It was too fun to agree with her.
As a freshman college student at Barnard, she struggles to fit in by going to a party despite being warned by her roommate it’s not for her and by submitting a fiction to the literary society called Mobius. Their efforts are not rewarded as the party turned out to be unwelcoming. It was also rejected by the literary society. He finds comfort in his mother, who is marrying a boy whose daughter also happens to live in New York. Her mother suggests that she meet her future sister, Brooke Cardanis (Greta Gerwig), and she might do so soon because they will meet for the first time on Thanksgiving.
When they met, Tracy was so in love with Brooke that it inspired her to write another fiction with Brooke as the main character. He tried to search for Mobius again by passing this story. For Tracy, Brooke represents the Big Apple: fun, fearless and independent.
Although Tracy feels that Brooke is everything she is not and secretly wants to be, deep down she knows that Brooke will never get to anything in her life. Tracy at eighteen has an old soul in her in contrast to thirty-year-old Brooke, whose attitude to hell has gotten her nowhere. While Tracy accompanies Brooke in her search for investors to help her build her restaurant, she also learned to be fun and courageous.
With these two women as central characters, one may wonder who of the two is the American Mistress. Is she the young and intellectual Tracy whose desires are overshadowed by her fears? Or is she the worldly and irrational Brooke whose well-intentioned dreams escape her due to her folly?
“I want the whole deal. I’ve spent my entire life chasing things and knocking on doors, and I’m tired of running towards people. want to be the place where people come. I want make a home for all the knockers and runners. I’m good at itt. I’m happy with that. I keep home. That’s a word, right? Home? – Brooke
Such questions can only be answered by making these female characters accept the possibility of achieving or not achieving their dreams. So did Tracy make it to the literary society? Brooke got her restaurant? Did they get that sense of belonging that they want so much?
What they got is the brotherhood that is unique to the plot. And more.