Damsels in Distress Reviews
Whatever imaginary era writer-director Whit Stillman has in mind, the customs he explores in this wan, self-consciously talky little drama intrigue him more than they do his audience.
These are hardly damsels, but the distress will be felt by audiences watching the collection of non sequiturs, twee remarks and tangential vignettes that is Damsels in Distress.
Considering the socioeconomic moment into which Damsels arrives-we're not in the go-go Clinton era anymore, Toto-it's relieving how scarcely Stillman's reactionary subtext bubbles to the surface.
[It] concerns a young woman either adopted by a fabulously odd trio of new pals or indoctrinated into the most twee cult in collegiate history. It's all in your receptivity to Stillman's brittle humor.
The premise -- young rich people discover themselves -- recalls that of Stillman's older features, but his characteristic naturalism is replaced here by overlit scenes, a saccharine symphonic score, and a halting narrative momentum.
Presumably meant to come off as affected in a comical way, the characters too often sound arrogant and ridiculous. Sometimes that's funny. Sometimes it's not. The ratio doesn't really work out the way you would like.
Fortunately, Damsels has an abundance of the erudite zingers that Stillman excels at writing, and that make his elegantly staged works seem like period pieces, even though they're set in modern times.