Damsels in Distress (2011)
Starring Greta Gerwig, Adam Brody, and Analeigh Tipton
Directed by Whit Stillman
Damsels in Distress is not necessarily what I would consider a chick flick, but it is a film that is presumably meant for a female audience, so here goes.
Writer/Director Whit Stillman hasn’t made a movie since the late nineties bomb that was “The Last Days of Disco,” and his latest offering shows the dusts of time.
Our quartet of botanically named protagonists Violet (Greta Gerwig), Heather (Carrie MacLemore), Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and new girl Lily (Analeigh Tipton) are ever so witty and ever so worldly in their militant naivete as they attempt to bend and twist East Coast College Campus life to their own worldview. The trouble is, their banter would have been so much more clever and their quirks ever so much more charming had this film been made ten years ago.
Nevertheless, Stillman keeps his characters internally consistent and really nails the passive aggressive bordering on militant politeness that arises when two alpha females in a group disagree. In fact, the film is filled with keen social observations. It really is too bad that Stillman obscures them with dialogue that is too obviously meant to be witty social commentary.
Damsels is filled with vividly drawn if one-dimensional characters, and aside from Violet, Stillman doesn’t really flesh out or develop any of them through the course of the film- a real problem if this is in fact meant to be a coming of age allegory (which the director has stated it is).
There is a love story of sorts in here too, but Stillman leaves the audience completely unsatisfied. Our only clue that Violet does in fact get the guy is her choice of dance partner during the “dance craze” she launches at the very end of the film.
Amusing, well acted, but ultimately this is a movie about nothing. And maybe that was the point.