The damsels in Damsels in Distress are only in distress sometimes. More often than not theyre the cause of someone elses distress.
Greta Gerwigs Violet and her roommates are out to fight low-life mediocrity wherever it is found on the Seven Oaks college campus; to correct by their standards behavior and attitudes.
In other words, while running the campus suicide prevention program, their focus is to save unfocused college males. That means plenty of girly gossip and a manipulative move here or there to help poor unfortunate males living in the alphabet houses. In the case of campus of Seven Oaks, the letters are Roman, not Greek.
Not that youll care.
Gerwig (Arthur) and her three co-stars babble through writer/director Whit Stillmans excellent, though sometimes overly chatty, script. Gerwig, a little known but exceptional actress, is the focal point of a series of crises faced by her posse.
Does posse fit here? Maybe not.
Gerwig is superb, as are her also mostly unknown co-stars. My favorite and one I think youll see more of in the future is Analeigh Tipton. She does Lily, the newest member of the group and the one who continually questions Violets motives. Tall, lanky and with real girl-next-door looks, Tipton steals the movie.
Stillmans (The Last Days of Disco) movie has the flavor of Sex and the City but leaves out the heavy emphasis on sex, clothing and materialism. Using clever and often witty commentary, the group addresses college-age adult issues such as dating, social status, intelligence, betrayal and of course love.
Early on its hard to keep track of the dialogue and get used to the almost non-stop patter. Once you settle into the films pace and delivery style, the movie grows on you.
Where Damsels in Distress falters is in places where Stillmans story loses focus. And it does it often, wandering to and fro and making Damsels in Distress distressful in an unanticipated way to the viewer.
Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It is playing at the Carmike 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.