Damsels In Distress

April 6, 2012

It’s been 13 years since Whit Stillman’s The Last Days Of Disco, but as this trailer for his long-awaited fourth film reveals, not too much has changed in the interim. Stillman is still enamored with witty, WASP-y young people who speak in fluid monologues peppered by literary allusion and sociological observation. He’s still fascinated by the tricky ways in which they couple and entwine, and how sex affects social structures, and sends characters into prolonged lapses of self-reflection. And he still loves the whimsy of interrupting the otherwise talky proceedings with a dance number—though now more than ever, according to the rave from our own Noel Murray, who notes their frequency as just one example of how Damsels In Distress is "outright loopy."

For example, some of these absurdist interludes take the form of suicide-preventing tap classes—just one of the many therapeutic methods with which the trio of confident ladies at the center of the film hope to reform the depressed and otherwise unfulfilled students at an East Coast university. Led by Greta Gerwig—who finally joins a lineage of Stillman indie darlings like Mira Sorvino and Chloë Sevigny, after years of starring in films he’s influenced—the group's mission soon becomes complicated by a succession of frat rats and “operators” like Adam Brody. Aubrey Plaza and Zach Woods add a little extra deadpan to what looks like a very dry yet fizzy vintage indeed. Welcome back, Whit.

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