When asked why he chose to make a picture about a troupe of misguided misfits at a private liberal arts college, a wry Stillman replied, “because someone would finance it.” MacLemore and Gerwig explained the particular rules of working on a Stillman film (“Walk Slower. Talk Faster. No Touching”), and all the actors commented on the challenges of learning to speak Stillmanese, which, judging by their speech rhythms onstage, persists for some time afterward.
The (Canadian) National Post has a written discussion between three people about the film, all of whom are enthusiastic. Somehow, a discussion like this brings out a few more interesting points about Stillman’s world than most straight reviews:
Sarah Lazarovic: The lack of real problems makes it easy for his characters to just ramble and banter and wax pedantic and make up new social classes and dance crazes (and perhaps social class dance crazes). Which is lovely. There are lots of well-written films in the world; there are far too few well-spoken ones.
Shinan Govani: I also loved how the director just creates a world — that, well, looks like ours, sorta, but is a mirror-house variation of ours. Did you guys notice, for instance, how these contemporary college coeds were never seen talking on cellphones — let alone social networking?
At CinemaBlend.com, Katey Rich apparently has a video review, although I didn’t make it through the initial 30 second advert. Her text review of the film is mixed, as she found herself “respecting its oddities more than engaging with it”.
Finally, for now, at Twitch, Kurt Halfyard isn’t quite sure what to make of Damsels but has some interesting thoughts:
Damsels In Distress finds Stillman making a bitter mockery of his previous work cloaked in effervescent frivolity. It is as if Stillman came out of retirement as an act self-immolation. The familiar syntax is present, the characters are in a similar social stratum, here a fictional university that caters to parents who buy their dunce-lings into an education bound not to stick, but the whole affair comes across as a vapid version of Clueless (i.e. life is a ‘shopping experience’ distillation of Emma). Either that, or the writer/director has no finger on the pulse of this generation and no interest in understanding them either.