Damsels in Distress – Review (Courier #5)

28 Mar

After a break of thirteen years since his last film, director Whit Stillman offers up Damsels in Distress: an indie, comedic chick-flick that tries to alter the typical view on university campuses and cliques. Stillman has a cult following and his latest arthouse film does not disappoint, even after a 13-year hiatus.

Damsels in Distress sets itself on a stereotypical and leafy college campus in New England, aptly named Seven Oaks College. It follows a trio of girls, led by the brilliant Violet (Greta Gerwig), as well as Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and Heather (Carrie MacLemore). They take new student Lily (Analeigh Tipton) under their wing as they try to improve the college by raising standards and hygiene levels, as well as trying to prevent suicides. A bizarre diet of free doughnuts, coffee and tap-dancing is used to help the depressed on campus. Meanwhile, a new dance craze is created by Violet (whose life aim is to be remembered) called the Sambola, complete with instructions before the credits roll.

It is a rather strange film to say the least, but it also manages to be funny, charming and rather sweet. The Director of the Dublin Film Festival remarked that the film was “Jane Austen meets Animal House”, as the dumb frat boys are present, and combined with the vintage dress worn by the trio of girls this creates a truly eccentric campus atmosphere and film. However, the main characters can be too much at times, especially wannabe-Brit Rose.


A quirky, funny and charming film that gives Stillman a welcome return back into the film business, whilst introducing the Sambola dance craze. However, this will not be everyone’s cup of coffee.



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