Damsels in Distress

New York-based director / writer Whit Stillman instills his deadpan humor and glances of societal rifts into his latest piece Damsels in Distress. More film detail can be read as follows (via TIFF 2011):

“It’s no exaggeration to say that writer/direc­tor Whit Stillman made three of the most resonant American independent films of the nineties: Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco. For a select group of filmgoers, the void he left in his thirteen-year absence from the screen is not unlike Terrence Malick’s twenty-year hia­tus between Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line. Many have wondered when — or if — Stillman would ever make another feature. With Damsels in Distress, he adds to his personal canon with a film that is distinctly offbeat, even manic, compared to his classic nineties comedies of man­ners, and yet retains his precise wit and refined dialogue — all executed with vintage Stillman aplomb.

True to the director’s oeuvre, his latest film takes a unique look into the psyche of privileged American youth, this time focus­ing on a group of undergraduates at a leafy East Coast university that has only recently begun to accept female students. The film stars Greta Gerwig as Violet, a kind of post-modern Jane Austen character. Prim, proper and extremely odd, Violet is alpha to a trio of attractive girls who’ve vowed to improve anyone they deem in need. When the girls spot a new transfer student named Lily (Analeigh Tipton), they take her under their wing and show her what to wear (think Grace Kelly by way of the 1980 Preppy Handbook), who to date (unattractive and dumb boys are ideal candidates for repair) and how to help prevent campus suicides (solution: tap-dancing, free donuts and good hygiene). However, when Violet is betrayed by her (wildly inferior) beau and begins to pine for Lily’s new flame (Adam Brody), her orderly world starts to crumble.

A heady yet deceptively light take on the all-girl clique subgenre best exemplified by Heathers and Clueless, Stillman takes that beloved formula to new, often-surreal heights. Neatly divided into chapters, Damsels in Distress is funny, tragic and delightfully weird all at the same time. Better still: it contains several dance numbers.”

Full trailer can be streamed down below!

Damsels in Distress, 2011