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Damsels In Distress

A new comedy of manners from the director of "Barcelona"

A film that raises laughs even with its end credits, Whit Stillman's whimsical campus comedy Damsels In Distress is an utter delight. Making a welcome return to directing after a long sabbatical following 1998's The Last Days Of Disco, Stillman proves he still knows how to write crackling, articulate dialogue for quirky preppie characters whom he loves laughing at as much as with. Sweet-natured Violet (Greta Gerwig) and her coed coevals Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and Heather (Carrie Maclemore) are college students on a mission. Dedicated to making Seven Oaks U., their alma mater, a more fragrant and pleasant place, they seek to combat the Neanderthal male populace's body-odour problem by promoting good hygiene, and stoically accept it's their lot in life to date frat boys far more stupid and less good-looking than themselves. After all, as Violet says in one of the pic's many quotable lines, 'The tendency, very widespread, to always seek someone "cooler" than yourself (is) always a stretch, often a big stretch. Why not instead find someone who's frankly inferior?' Among their other projects (Violet's lifelong ambition is to invent a new dance craze) and philanthropic enterprises, they run the suicide-prevention center on campus where the doughnuts are free, but only to anyone verifiably depressed. Accompanied by Lily (Analeigh Tipton), the newest addition to their clique, they're willing to rush to the aid of anyone in a tailspin after a recent break-up, their survival strategies usually revolving around the advisability of dating uglier, stupider men than oneself. Violet's help backfires on her when one student, Priss (Caitlin Fitzgerald), takes up with Violet's own intellectually challenged boyfriend, Frank (Ryan Metcalf), a frat boy so dim he literally doesn't even know the colour of own eyes. At least he can identify colours, though, unlike his buddy Thor (Billy Magnussen, superb), who has been educationally handicapped by his pushy parents' insistence that he skip kindergarten. Later, Violet connects with Charlie (Adam Brody), one of Lily's beaus, who like Violet is not all he seems and has a gift for reinvention. The film is chock-full of daft digressions and sweetly silly subplots, but the ensemble goes at it all with such deadpan rigour, it plays like vintage screwball comedy minus the pratfalls, apart from what must be one of the most uproariously funny suicide attempts in recent film history. Positively boiling with sharp, almost casually dispensed zingers, repeated phrases (Rose is constantly on a suspicious vigil against ‘playboy or operator types'), and dialogue that might not be so funny when repeated in isolation but is hilarious in context, Stillman's screenplay is a thing of beauty. – Leslie Felperin, VarietyOfficial Trailer
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Directed by: 
Whit Stillman
Running Time: 
Greta Gerwig, Adam Brody, Analeigh Tipton, Megalyn Echiunwoke, Carrie MacLemore, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Ryan Metcalf, Billy Magnussen
Screenplay by: 
Whit Stillman

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