Damsels In Distress

  • Year:2011
  • Rating:M
  • Director:Whit Stillman
  • Cast:Megalyn Echikunwoke , Carrie MacLemore , Analeigh Tipton , Greta Gerwig
  • Release Date:September 06, 2012
  • Distributor:Sony
  • Running time:99 minutes
  • Film Worth:$16.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Deftly pulling off a loopy and sometimes baffling handful of tones, this turns into something original and heartfelt.

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Smartly working against the precedent established by the likes of Heathers and Mean Girls, in Whit Stillman’s latest film – the first from the indie director behind The Last Days Of Disco in over a decade – the group of beautiful, fashionable girls aren’t conniving bitches but perky do-gooders here to help their fellow students. This even extends to the girls – led by Greta Gerwig’s kind but staunchly idealistic Violet – overseeing the campus’ suicide prevention centre. And one of the key ways to prevent suicide? Avoid falling for handsome and intelligent boys. This nugget of wisdom sees Violet date the slow and oafish looking Frank (Ryan Metcalf). As Violet explains to incoming student, Lily (Analeigh Tipton who proved herself a talent to watch in last year’s Crazy, Stupid, Love), by dating Frank, she’s making a difference in someone else’s life and protecting herself from heartbreak.

In line with the central characters’ prim and proper outward appearance, Stillman has created a preppy, brightly-hued world for his characters to exist in. But just like his characters, scratch below the surface and there’s a loopy, zany and baffling handful of tones at play. The humour’s alternatively deadly droll and then hilariously broad. There’s dark stuff and there’s dance numbers. And while it occasionally feels a little wobbly, it grows more sure of itself and richer as it goes along. And that’s largely thanks to its central character, Violet. While we know where Stillman’s going with the character – Violet’s carefully ordered set of rules and lifestyle is inevitably going to come crumbling down at one point – what is less easy to predict is her unwavering generosity when it does. There are moments of sadness, but there’s never an ounce of mean-spiritedness about her. She’s a character to aspire toward. And in a contemporary film about twenty-somethings, they’re a rare breed. Just like this weird little gem of a film.

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