Noah Baumbach has long been one of the funniest, most generous observers of youth’s honest foibles, so it's kind of crushing to see him steer towards a particularly aggravating brand of farce. The solid set-up follows new Barnard College freshman Tracy (Lola Kirke) as she struggles to adjust socially to her new environs, then finds a ready-made friend and life-tour-guide in her soon-to-be stepsister Brooke (Greta Gerwig, Baumbach's partner and co-writer), a charismatic whirlwind of big ideas that never quite go anywhere. The first half is genuinely charming, both in capturing Tracy's initial insecurity and loneliness, and in giving Gerwig another great alpha-female showcase. And then the plot shifts abruptly to focus on Brooke’s trip to Connecticut to beg an old flame for funds to invest in her planned restaurant, and the whole thing turns into a parade of people bouncing from room to room, accusing and misunderstanding one another, trading recriminations and generally building the need for some sort of headache medication. Whatever Baumbach and Gerwig want to say about the inspirational charms of life’s colorful, flaky characters, they can find a way to say it without shouting.
Director: Noah Baumbach
Producer: Noah Baumbach, Scott Rudin, Lila Yacoub, Rodrigo Teixeira, Greta Gerwig, Lourenco Sant'Anna and Sophie Mas
Cast: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke, Matthew Shear, Jasmine Jones, Heather Lind, Michael Chernus, Cindy Cheung and Dean Wareham