Damsels in Distress (2011)

didIt seems Whit Stillman, director and writer, is the deal, and you’d watch because of his oeuvres; each one of them was made a decade apart.

This is a ha-ha-interesting-witty film that focuses on a bunch of university girls, and the usual school cliques.The most interesting are the lies Violet(Greta Gerwig) tells, and the way she tells them: highbrow and perfectly normal without a blink of her eyes. Fred Packenstacker(Adam Brody) is equally so, who uses his playboy and operator name,Charlie Walker, to pick up pretty girls, and he even offers them cocktails. The worst he lies that he works for Strategic Development Associates, so that university girls like Lily will fall for him. Violet denies that he is a playboy and operator and comments further that cocktails are expensive.

On the campus, we have the usual frat house, the losers dorm, and in lieu of a sorority, Violet and three other girls-Rose(Megalyn Echikunwoke),Heather(Carrie MacLemore), and new recruit Lily(Analeigh Tipton)-live in the Suicide Prevention Center.  Violet has the idea that dance is a better therapy for depressed students than drug’s, and a dance craze, Sambola, is the way to fame-dom. She also dates sub-par intellects because she thinks hunky-six-packs-handsome guys are all deceitful, their only M.O. is to break a girl’s heart.

Lily is a transfer student, and you can tell she feels she is on mars at Seven Oaks. The frat houses are organized by Roman letters  instead of Greek’s, and B.O. (body odor) gives away one’s status at the school. Violet thinks by helping them to eliminate their B.O. is the starting point of curing them from depression and suicidal thoughts. She speaks of her own experience with a piece of ivory soap from Motel 4 (even cheaper) and not Motel 6.

The writing is impeccable, and you believe and enjoy the silliness of what the characters are saying with their serious tones and superfluous choice of words. Unlike Cher(Alicia Silverstone) in Clueless(1995), Violet speaks in that tongue as if it is normal, cause she believes she speaks the truth even if it is condescending. But she does realize her flaws after going through verbal critical analyses if Lily criticizes her hypocrisy.

Xavier(Hugo Becker) is the French foreign student using his fake beliefs in Catharism to take advantage of Lily, he says the non procreative way of love-making will bring the couple closer with intense intimacy. The irony is that Lily thinks that she is the rational (intellectual) one among Violet’s group, yet she submits to Xavier’s BS readily.

Then there is Thor(Billy Magnussen), whose parents believed so much in his talent that they put him in grade school, where he missed the critical year of learning colours, causing him to be a cognitive-colourblind: he can’t tell colours.

The final musical numbers are a tribute to the same dance in Fred Astaire‘s A Damsel in Distress(1937).

WATCH if you like witty dialogues


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