At The Movies with Margaret & David talk Damsels in Distress:
Damsels in Distress
Review by David Stratton
Seven Oaks is a college on the East Coast of America. Violet Wister, GRETA GERWIG, is the leader of a group of attractive young women students who are all named after flowers: Rose, MEGALYN ECHIKUNWOKE, Heather, CARRIE MACLEMORE, and new arrival Lily, ANALEIGH TIPTON. The majority of the students at Seven Oaks are male, and Violet and her friends are determined to raise standards, starting with doing something about the masculine smell that permeates the place. Violet feels the problems faced by most girls is that they’re too busy looking for a ‘cool’ man – why not, she thinks, choose a male who’s obviously inferior – you’ll feel more in control that way.
Whit Stillman made a trio of well-regarded films in the 90s – METROPOLITAN, BARCELONA and THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO – but he’s been absent from the screen for 13 years. DAMSELS IN DISTRESS shows he’s lost none of his ability to write amusingly off-the-wall characters, and much of the film is genuinely funny, once you get on to the director’s very special wavelength. Greta Gerwig’s Violet is a wonderful creation – her ambition is to invent a new dance that will sweep the world, and, indeed, the film veers towards a musical eventually with a lovely rendition of “Things Are Looking Up”, a Gershwin song originally introduced by Fred Astaire in the 1937 film, A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS. Having these women run a Suicide Prevention Centre is a risky element for a comedy, but Stillman