Writer-director Whit Stillman
Then Stillman disappeared from the screen activity for 14 years, during which time he ran up against creative and financial brick walls. On its surface, Stillman's fourth film, “Damsels in Distress,” has all the
Gerwig plays Violet, the leader of a group of young women with floral names at Seven Oaks, a sub-Ivy League university attended by neurotic females and comically dumb males. Rose and Heather (Megalyn Echikunwoke and Carrie MacLemore) follow Violet around on her constant social engineering jag, running an unusually busy suicide prevention center and trying to improve the intellectual standing of the men around them. The trio spots the lost-looking Lily (Tipton) during the first week of classes and takes her under their wings, an occasion that mainly serves as a springboard for Stillman's observations about campus life, most of which are voiced through Gerwig's distressingly deadpan delivery.
The key difference between “Damsels” and classic Stillman is subtlety. Fraternity boys such as smirky Frank (Ryan Metcalf) feel like momentarily amusing but ultimately flat versions of dumb collegians, and his dense buddy Thor (Billy Magnussen) might seem colorblind at first, but he
This tonal polarity makes “Damsels in Distress” play like The Three Stooges knuckle-heading around in a comedy of manners. There are actual characters named Freak Astaire (Nick Blaemire), Depressed Debbie (Plaza), Mad Madge (Alia Shawkat) and Fred Packenstacker (Brody). Stillman used to be better than this, but he names his characters like denizens of an Adam Sandler movie. Toward the close, when Violet both stages a
— George Lang
‘Damsels in Distress'
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Adam Brody, Analeigh Tipton, Megalyn Echikunwoke, and Carrie MacLemore. (Mature thematic content including some sexual material).