By Morgan Roberts
Brooke Cardinas (Greta Gerwig) is the most intriguing person in the world. As one of the central characters of 2015’s “Mistress America,” Brooke is alluring with her joie de vivre and exciting life. Yet, this film is more than just two women at different stages trying to figure it out, but it is Brooke’s love story with life and people.
In 2015, influencers were not the permanent fixtures on the internet as they are today, but Brooke was one of the early examples I remember seeing. She was building a brand based on luxury, exhilaration, and passion. But as the film unfolds, we see Brooke struggle to maintain her facade; she greatly wishes her life was as exciting as she tries to make it out to be. She doesn’t have the dreamy boyfriend or the endless support of friends or the business ventures she is so sure would be successes. Life was never turning out like she wanted.
At one point, Brooke laments, “I think I’m sick, and I don’t know if my ailment has a name. It’s just me sitting and staring at the internet or the television for long periods of time, interspersed by trying to not do that and then lying about what I’ve been doing. And then I’ll get so excited about something that the excitement overwhelms me and I can’t sleep or do anything and I just am in love with everything but can’t figure out how to make myself work in the world.” Brooke is the embodiment of an endless well of love, but one that doesn’t understand how to properly draw that out. There are times we can’t help but feel we have that ailment too.
But, at the end of the day, even with the mess and uncertainty, Brooke perseveres. She does not quite understand where she fits in the world, or what any of it means. We don’t leave her with a nicely wrapped up ending. She and life aren’t necessarily on the best of terms, but she is certainly in for the long haul, doing anything she can to find the love and joy she tried so hard to make for herself. And as the film ends, we properly wrap up the love story of Brooke and life: “She was the last cowboy, all romance and failure. The world was changing, and her kind didn’t have anywhere to go. Being a beacon of hope for lesser people… is a lonely business.”