Damsels in Distress Review
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College is a strange time—a time of all-night study sessions, deep, philosophical discussions, wild parties, and numerous failed attempts at [somewhat] mature relationships. And writer/director Whit Stillman manages to capture that unique blend of pretense and madness in his off-beat comedy, Damsels in Distress.

When sophomore transfer student Lily (Analeigh Tipton) first arrives at Seven Oaks University, she’s immediately welcomed by Violet (Greta Gerwig) and her friends, Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and Heather (Carrie MacLemore). They take Lily under their wing, show her the ropes of their once-male campus, and invite her to join them in reaching out to the college community.

To Violet and her friends, Seven Oaks is a pretty sad and pathetic place. It’s a world filled with suicidal students in need of a new dance craze, body odor in need of some sweet-smelling soap, and dim-witted males in need of sympathy and support. So they make it their mission to help their fellow students, much to the bewilderment and dismay of their new roommate, who’d really prefer a nice, normal college existence.

Loaded with over-exaggerated characters taking part in long and amusingly misguided debates, Damsels in Distress definitely isn’t the typical mainstream college comedy. While it does have its share of frat parties and ill-advised relationships, it isn’t a brainless, shallow, Friday night kind of free-for-all. Instead, it’s chatty and adorably bizarre in an indie hipster kind of way, offering an entertaining look back at the way we were (and the people we knew) during our own college days.

The quirky cast of characters makes the film fun to watch, with the prim and proper “damsels” and their fellow pseudo-intellectuals balanced by hilariously dim-witted frat boys (like Billy Magnussen’s poor Thor, who’s still trying to learn his colors). And Gerwig is at her best as the flighty, outspoken, and undeniably unstable gang leader. Dressed in the kind of classic, feminine garb of which June Clever would certainly approve, she’s on a mission to spread her ideals to the poor, unfortunate souls around her. Of course, what she doesn’t realize (after all, her kind rarely do) is that she needs just as much help (if not more) than those around her.

The characters’ bizarre philosophical debates and perplexing philosophies are more than enough to keep things light and entertaining. After a while, though, you’ll begin to realize that the film isn’t actually going anywhere—and, by the end, the novelty of the quirky characters and their random discussions fades a bit. When the credits roll, you’ll be left questioning the point of it all—but, as long as you’re prepared for the film’s odd little quirks, you’ll still enjoy the journey.

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