We got a chance to interview the man behind the magic and learn more about the great film.
The great and prolific writer director is back with yet another hit in Mistress America. In the same vein as his most recent films Frances Ha and While We’re Young, this film follows the relationship between two female leads, Tracy, a new college student in New York, and Brooke, her fun soon to be step sister.
Read what Noah had to say about the film:
What’s your relationship with New York? It seems like you love the city but at the same time are you a little disappointed?
Noah Baumbach: Like any relationship, yea, I think that’s a fair way to say it. My love for it wins out. I mean, I’m still here. I really like shooting in New York and using New York as it exists and trying to use everyday New York as a backdrop to a pretend New York that’s going on in our movie and how those play off each other is always, you know. I think visually I always like when it works. I always like seeing our characters in the real city and try to do that when I can.
What helped inspire the film?
Baumbach: It was really, I think, Greta doing sort of find this character. The way we were writing something else, and we weren’t even sure what that was but we sort of brought in the side character and we thought oh that’d be a funny character for you to play and we were calling her Brooke and Greta was kind of doing versions of this character. So that was what gave us the idea.
I always think of your films dealing with two things. One is how old your characters are and the other is that your characters are sort of misplaced and don’t fit in. How does that apply to this movie?
Baumbach: I don’t think of my movies in terms of themes though, so I don’t, while of course I’m aware that there are going to have, you know, themes that are going to run through it, it stands to reason that since I’ve written and directed all of these things that there’s going to be a conversation that goes on between them. I’m not really interested in what that is. I get interested in each movie individually and I sort of want to try to figure out what that is, and, you know, often it’s sort of specific idea or things or visuals or characters that have been in my head for a while that I start to crystalize to become the story I end up making. So, I don’t really think of it like that. I think what you say makes sense.
Is there any reason why you shot this movie in Manhattan and not in Brooklyn where you grew up?
Baumbach: It felt like Brooke’s kind of dream of New York and of herself was a Manhattan dream and not a Brooklyn dream. She’s kind of more connected to a different New York in that way. It also kind of made us laugh that she moved to Times Square, that she felt like Times Square was the place to be and so that she was this sort of denizen of Times Square, which, if you actually look at it, the nights we spent shooting in Times Square, it’s like being inside a television. You come out all like, probably all got like radiation poisoning. She’s not really in New York in 2015. She’s in New York in like, 1982 or something.
Both this movie and the last one have characters who make things and go about sort of film and writing and hurting other characters and that seems like it must be coming from somewhere. Is it?
Baumbach: It’s got to be, right? I think in both movies, the things that they talk about, maybe fight about or argue about have these sort of maybe artistic or philosophical or moral questions, but really, in both cases it’s an emotional hurt. That they feel it’s about friendship and about idolatry and about, you know, what you want a person to be or who you want yourself to be or what you make them to you and how that influences relationships. In many ways it was about coming up with interesting ways to kind of dramatize that. But I think in both cases they are really stories about friendship and about the questions of friendship. I suppose that sort of artistic responsibility or moral responsibility may be kind of deep in that argument.