Friday, April 6, 2012

Movie with Abe: Damsels in Distress

Damsels in Distress
Directed by Whit Stillman
Released April 6, 2012

The damsels in distress

Some films are defined entirely by their tone. Whit Stillman’s “Damsels in Distress” begins with whimsical titles that outline the cast, the damsels and their distress, otherwise known as the men in their lives. This is Stillman’s first film in fourteen years, and only his fourth feature film ever produced, and his voice, by all accounts of those involved in the film, is what defines and drives this particular project. An expertly assembled and eclectic cast speaks his dialogue and brings to life his odd, often hard-hitting and more than occasionally off-kilter take on love, romance, and depression.

Star Greta Gerwig and director Whit Stillman discuss the film

To tell the story of four girls that run a suicide prevention center, whose three-pronged sign is often missing its middle word, on a college campus, Stillman was fortunate to work with a diverse and talented cast. Greta Gerwig, who previously appeared in “Greenberg” and “House of the Devil,” discussed the strangeness of being first on the call sheet while filming her role as Violet, the film’s central presence, emphasizing her every syllable and sentiment as she analyzes every occurrence in her life and her unique perspective on it. It’s a sign that Gerwig is capable of carrying a film and creating a character that, as she describes, she can connect to through dialogue rather than through relating to her.

Stars Carrie MacLemore and Megalyn Echikunwoke discuss the film

Gerwig is ably supported by three fantastic young ladies. Analeigh Tipton, who broke out in “Crazy Stupid Love” and recurred on the final season of “Hung,” proves that she will have a bright future with her performance as Lily, the exceptionally aware new addition to the group. Megalyn Echikunwoke, recently seen on “House of Lies,” is terrific as the sarcastic Rose, who places importance on fragrance above all else, something the actress herself believes is crucial. Newcomer Carrie MacLemore is a wondrous find, charming even as she spews unintelligible thoughts about life and love.

Stars Analeigh Tipton and Adam Brody discuss the film

The men, though hardly as central, are entertaining as well, including Adam Brody, Ryan Metcalf, and especially Billy Magnussen as thick-headed lug Thor. Stillman’s screenplay offers up an intriguing perspective on happiness and sadness, and as spoken by his actors, it presents a peculiarly endearing story. Discussing the film, Brody praises the film’s light touch and its avoidance of a heavy-handed, bleak treatment of depression. Stillman dubs his characters “comical utopians,” tip-top girls at a not-so-tip-top school striving to create a utopia based on what they know and what they imagine. That makes for one wild, unconventional ride, that’s more often amusing and enjoyable than not.


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