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Chicago Encore Engagement
DAMSELS IN DISTRESS
Recommended! "Even were it not so delightful, Damsels in Distress...would deserve a watch for its dialogue alone... [Walt] Stillman's writing has a singular intelligence that has become an increasingly rare pleasure in the movie theater" -NPR
"Stillmans's dialogue is even more confected than ever, and [Greta] Gerwig's rapid-fire delivery spins it audaciously, like plates on sticks, with her reliably surprising personal inflections and expressions. The director found the actress's inner Katharine Hepburn" -New Yorker
"Stillman seems to have plucked [his heroines] from Jane Austen and rolled in equal parts P.G. Wodehouse and J.D. Salinger before dowsing them with the scent of his uniquely American-preppy sensibility" -Time
"An utter delight... Stillman's screenplay is a thing of beauty" -Variety
"[Stillman's] urban-haute-bourgeoisie-as-endangered-species sympathies are more refined than ever" -Village Voice
½ "This delicately funny and romantic film feels like an auspicious return" -New York Post
"[Stillman's] notions of female/male rituals of courtship may be science fiction, but they're a breath of fresh air" -Chicago Tribune
"[Stillman] is a master of clever double-reverse wit. I didn't mention Wodehouse by chance" -Roger Ebert
Critics' Pick! "Frequently hilarious, thanks largely to Greta Gerwig, who rises to the task of delivering such stylishly anachronistic dialogue" -TimeOut Chicago
Twelve years after The Last Days of Disco, Oscar-nominated writer-director Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Barcelona) is back with another affectionate skewering of the predilections and peccadilloes of America's "urban haute bourgeoisie." Damsels in Distress, set on the campus of fictional Seven Oaks University, follows a trio of beautiful, slightly delusional female students: the dynamic, self-appointed leader Violet Wister (Greta Gerwig, Greenburg, Lola Versus), intent on making this historically male-dominated school a more refined and better-smelling institution, principled Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and sexy Heather (Carrie MacLemore). They are determined to make the world a better place by running a suicide prevention center where tap dancing and perfume are offered as conduits to happiness. Yet despite their resolve to set their sights low where men are concerned and mircomanage heartbreak out of their lives, these latter-day Jane Austen heroines soon find themselves navigating a gauntlet of potential suitors, their carefully ordered universe threatening to implode at every turn.
Filmed in candy-colored pastels and culminating in a show-stopping musical number, Stillman's hilarious send-up of the academy and those who inhabit it marks a welcome, overdue return for one of American independent cinema's most distinctive voices.
Directed by Whit Stillman, U.S.A., 2011, 35mm, 99 mins.