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film review

Lola Kirke, left, stars as Tracy and Greta Gerwig plays Brooke in director Noam Baumbach’s Mistress America, a hybrid of screwball comedy and odd-couple farce with a smooth academic finish.

Zippy, sharp and monstrously smart, Mistress America is not only Noah Baumbach's funniest film, but the best comedy of the year.

Following the unlikely friendship between shy college student Tracy (Lola Kirke) and her manic stepsister-to-be Brooke (Greta Gerwig, also the film's co-writer), the movie rips apart New York's overcrowded social jungle of writers, musicians, interior designers and other wannabe creative types with gleeful abandon.

Everybody here wants to be something they're not – Brooke dreams of opening a restaurant, starting a fashion line and writing the great American novel, "but as a TV series" – and Baumbach and Gerwig do their very best to vaporize them, while still somehow maintaining a strong sense of compassion for their oft-selfish characters.

But whatever heavy themes the pair explore here, it's all secondary to the fast and witty dialogue, which is out of control in the best sense possible.