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|English subtitles Damsels in Distress||3 years ago|
|Chinese subtitles Damsels in Distress||3 years ago|
|Greek subtitles Damsels in Distress||3 years ago|
|Turkish subtitles Damsels in Distress||3 years ago|
|Brazilian Portuguese subtitles Damsels in Distress||3 years ago|
|Finnish subtitles Damsels in Distress||3 years ago|
Delightful, quirky, intelligent fun
5/10 It's clear that some reviewers "got" this film and some didn't. As always, Stillman delivers with marvelous, laugh-out-loud funny dialogue. This is so rare that that that virtue alone sets it apart from the majority of the drivel that passes for conversation in movie scripts these days. You can't tell me that there aren't some one-liners in there that you hear and just *wish* you could have uttered yourself if only you'd had the wit (Whit?).3 years ago
The characters are all flawed, some lovably so, some not--just like life. You're not meant to like all of them, and it's part of the subtle, social observation of which Stillman is capable that the unlikable characters are not always immediately unlikable. Some characters learn from their mistakes and misperceptions, some do not. Again, like life.
The thing that is so winsome about Stillman's movies is that virtue always triumphs. There is a sweetness to his choice that the good always eclipses the bad. It's almost heart-achingly sweet, because we know that that is not how things usually work out, and yet you find yourself rooting for these flawed, quirky, sometimes idiotic characters to get out of their own way and allow their better natures to win the day. I've wondered for a long time about the central role of dancing in his movies, and maybe it's that when you're dancing, it's hard to do much else, and you become one with music, rhythm, and your dance partner(s). Perhaps that's what he wants for his characters--to use dance as a vehicle to get out of their own way and lead a happier, less complicated, less tortured existence.
My favorite of his movies will always be "Metropolitan," but this is an excellent new addition to his oeuvre. We've been waiting for "the new one" for a while, and now that it's here I find it a sheer delight.
It's kind of like
10/10 Mean Girls' older sister that went to college, got an awesome biting, dry sense or humor; and got some wicked analytical skills to go along with it. This was just such an adorable and intelligent movie, both extolling the virtues of the undergrad experience while simultaneously panning it. At first, the movie may lose you with its irreverent randomness and quirkiness. Personally, I recommend at least one re-watch, to which it will become more clear and you'll be able to appreciate it more. This movie is one of those movies that has near unlimited replay value so that should be quite easy to do. Although nearly everyone was perfect in their roles, Greta Gerwig as Violet stands out. She's just pseudo deep in a sarcastic spirit that is tough to pull off while acting. The male characters are well done also but play in the background, which is actually kind of refreshing since many movies like this fall victim to sexism, or at least "boy craziness" of the presumably straight female characters. Overall, bravo, brava for this example of a deep, "slow-moving" comedy aimed at us young folk... not many like it these days.3 years ago
Witty, quirky, and funny...and that's just the characters
8/10 Few films recently have been able to capture my imagination like this one. With the glut of comic book films and remakes, very few people are making original films. I was not expecting much going into this film (I saw it at a festival). In fact I had not planned on seeing it, but it seemed "different" enough to warrant a watch. Well, I went in not knowing what to expect and came out with a big grin. I was happy I gave it a shot and was surprised by the other comment on here.3 years ago
If you want to see something original, that has some break out actors, and is funny, then check out "Damsels in Distress." Days after I left the screening, I kept thinking back on the funny lines and comically earnest characters. Go in with an open mind and come out with a grin.
IMDb does not allow 8.5 stars, but that's my verdict. This goes into the category of films I'll be watching again once it hits the theaters.
A triumphant return for the great Whit Stillman
9/10 Whit Stillman is back. The writer-director of Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco was thought to have retired, his career having not stirred since 1999. But no. Apparently he's just been writing scripts that no-one would fund. Until this one.3 years ago
Damsels in Distress is a college comedy about a group of girls all named after flowers who spot vulnerable new additions to the roster and try to help them, through their Suicide Prevention Centre ("They say with illness, prevention is nine-tenths the cure. With suicide, it's actually ten-tenths.") There's no counselling or medication, just free doughnuts, unlicensed aromatherapy and tap dancing. This being college, and this being Stillman, plenty of the story also regards romantic entanglements with frat boys, a "playboy-or-operator-type" and a Spanish religious zealot.
The film is brimming over with that unique, hilarious Stillman dialogue we've been missing for the last 13 years: cool people "lacking humanity", confusion over the spelling of the name "Zorro", and references to a time before anyone "started being nice to weird and unpopular kids". He's a wildly subversive writer, with a distinctive and fiercely individual viewpoint, seeing everything from a fresh angle. In Metropolitan his characters criticised "public transport snobs" who wouldn't take taxis, called socialist philosophers "patronising" and pontificated on the discreet, oft-overlooked charm of the bourgeoisie. In Barcelona, the virtues and vices of American imperialism were dissected in typically offbeat fashion. And in The Last Days of Disco, Stillman suggested the death of Bambi's mother was a formative incident for an entire generation that consequently embraced animal rights. It makes you think that Stillman would make one hell of an essayist. He's certainly one hell of a filmmaker. Here he offers an absurdist take on pushy parents and laments the degeneration of homosexual culture, from Wilde to macho posturing.
As always, he gives his characters absurd, unforgettable back stories. In the past we've had a supposedly gifted student fail a crucial exam because a girl kept snapping her bra strap, and the tragic tale of Polly Perkins, which shed light on the many wrongdoings of Metropolitan's heinous Rick von Sloneker. Here there are several, including those of queen bee Violet (Greta Gerwig), slickster Charlie and the blank-faced Thor, who's going to "hit the books really hard" in order to learn his colours. Stillman makes much in his films of affectations and the projected image and there are big lies again here, as Stillman returns to his favourite theme: the search for identity and a purpose in life. These are characters in flux: they change and solidify before our eyes. And then, quite often, they pair off.
It's hard to describe the plot. Really it's the antithesis of formula filmmaking: novelistic and unpredictable, with constant diversions and twists you can't anticipate, as in real life. And in a sense it is like real life, only with better dialogue and a taste for the fantastical. Stillman has always had a delightfully unselfconscious fondness for dancing. His films have had limbo competitions, "bible-dancing", a formal dance and an entire film based around disco, with a climax set to Love Train, in which people shimmy along a train carriage. In Damsels, all Gerwig wants to do in life is help people and start an international dance craze. Her unskilled jaunt down a dorm room corridor is a highlight, before the film passes into genuine musical territory, exploding into an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza for its closing five minutes. Fittingly, the number Stillman chooses, Things Are Looking Up, is one of the loveliest from A Damsel in Distress - the 1937 Fred Astaire film. Leaping into musical territory is a filmic trick that can go very badly wrong, but it's done with such sincerity and such a genuine love for the genre that it's a move of complete inspiration.
The cast is largely excellent. Gerwig was a heroine of the "Mumblecore" genre before her break-out performance opposite Ben Stiller in Greenberg. Speaking in that curious way common to all the director's central characters and asked to essentially carry the film in an extremely tricky part, she's absolutely magnetic: juggling conflicting, contrasting character traits from one moment to the next, as her character variously finds and loses herself, helps and hinders others and may be either a life-saver or a joke. Analeigh Tipton plays Lily, who, as a new addition to the group, is forced to wrestle with their peculiarities, whilst negotiating a love life that sees her periodically deceived, confused and asked to have sex in an uncomfortable way. It's another busy part and she's fine in it. It took me a little while to acclimatise to the English Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke), but she, erm, grew on me increasingly throughout the movie. The fourth member of the group, Heather (Carrie MacLemore), a principle-light dummy, seems a strangely conventional part, at least on first viewing, but MacLemore tackles it with gusto.
The performances from the men aren't as uniformly strong. Adam Brody is good as strategic developer Charlie, and Billy Magnussen makes an amusing idiot, but Ryan Metcalf as the blue-eyed, fairly unattractive, fairly unintelligent Frank is a touch inconsistent, and Hugo Becker isn't great as Lily's unconventional Latin lover. Perhaps the best of the bunch is Zach Woods in a cinematic first: the Chris Eigeman character not played by Chris Eigeman.
I like Whit Stillman more than any other modern filmmaker: for his glorious dialogue, challenging, surprising worldview and superbly-drawn characters. On a first viewing, Damsels is a worthy addition to the canon, with the slightly underwhelming digital visuals quickly forgotten thanks to an engrossing, meandering story, superb work from Gerwig and a script that has more great lines than anything I've seen so far this decade. But who watches Whit Stillman films just once? Barbarians, that's who. It's only repeat viewings that will reveal the precise depths of Damsels' myriad charms.
(Even longer review is on the blog.)
Could it be another acquired taste I have not yet fully acquired?
5/10 Violet Wister (Greta Gerwig), Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke), Heather (Carrie MacLemore), and Lily (Analeigh Tipton) have many things in common; they all talk with a smug tone and they attend the liberal arts school Seven Oaks, which seems to exist in its own little world. To be frank, it seems that Damsels in Distress has erected a world all its own, where pop culture doesn't exist and neither do Televisions, automobiles, or anything along the lines of utilities that we've become accustomed to today.3 years ago
I love films that exist in the screenwriter's head. One of the more recent examples is Wes Anderson's majestic and enthusiastic Moonrise Kingdom, a film that appeared to have its own mindset and, within in it, its own set of characters, laws, rules, and agenda that it wanted to accomplish. Damsels in Distress isn't quite as majestic and enthusiastic. It's rather monotone, uninteresting, and groggy for the most part. What a shame since this is director Whit Stillman's return to film after a thirteen year hiatus.
The storyline concerns those four girls as they go about their lives at this preppy Ivy League school. One of the first things they do, after recruiting Lily, is recreate the school's "suicide prevention center" where they will use aroma therapy, donuts, and coffee in order to reassure students about their place in the world. Why? In the meantime, the girls began to get entangled romantically with men, from the sophisticated Charles (Adam Brody) to the absolute hunk Xavier (also called, "Zavier," played by Hugo Becker). These relationships seem innocuous but prove to be possibly lethal to the girl's unbreakable bond together and this is what, sort of, gets the film on its feet.
Damsels in Distress seems like a satire lost at sea. It's satirizing, or attempting to, Ivy League life and the strange quirks it possesses. The problem is it never fully gets a grip and forms an agenda on what it wants to parody. We get shells of characters who feel robotic and cold, only capable of saying a funny line but incapable of brewing characterization. The satirical element isn't that witty and neither is much of the film. This is more down the line of surrealism than satire.
Stillman greatly reminds me of the quirk-expert I explored earlier this past summer and the man I just mentioned not too long ago; Wes Anderson. Stillman seems to be completely capable of setting up a beautiful long shot, focusing on characters, and intimately capturing life's wonderful eccentricities. But he struggles in the same field Anderson struggled in with his two features, Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, respectively; he focuses so much on look and subtle beauty that he successfully undermines the storyline and the characters within it. Damsels in Distress concludes with a random song-and-dance number almost cementing the fact that there was no conceivable way to completely end this sort of story. It's choppy and inconsistent. But it all looks pretty.
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Adam Brody, Analeigh Tipton, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Carrie MacLemore, Hugo Becker, and Ryan Metcalf. Directed by: Whit Stillman.