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Damsels in Distress

March 14, 2013

Damsels in Distress movie poster

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Damsels in Distress is a bonkers film that takes you into a world of tap dancing, dance crazes and second floor suicide attempts. It features four young women with personalities unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Together, they navigate through college life and all it’s travails. They talk smart but are close and far away from intelligence. For instance, while defending her attempt to start a new dance craze Greta Gerwig argues (falsely yet confidently) that the Charleston was named after a man and not the city. She is incorrect but she sounds like she knows what she is talking about. Thus, you wonder if everything you’ve heard so far is false. Also, there is the woman born in America who spent six weeks in England and now only speaks with a British accent. This is not fluffy stuff. It is for smart, detached,  ironic or cinema-goers who watched Whit Stillman’s prior films. Also, be wary that this film is fun but feels much longer then it’s two hour running time due to randomness and general lack of a traditional narrative (not a bad thing).

Damsels in Distress four women

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It walks a tight rope between irony, peculiarity and self consciousness. For instance, this picture below features an excited young man named Thor who  finally learned his colors and is celebrating by naming all of the colors of the rainbow.

Damsels in Distress Thor

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I could talk about this film ad nauseum and still forget about several of the weird yet fantastic moments. There is no way to fully explain the plot so I’ve decided to describe some of the more memorable scenes. In an attempt to cure depression and make dorm students smell better the four women stuff square envelopes with soap and send it to the stinky dorms. The dimwits at the dorm use these squares as throwing discs until soap falls out and two of them randomly clean themselves. Or, the French guy (I think) who convinces Analeigh Tipton (Warm Bodies) that his religion only allows them to have sex in an uncomfortable place (Not in the back of a VW). I also have to mention the Sambola which is the dance craze Gerwig invents.

Damsels in Distress Adam Brody

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The story revolves around students at a fictional university where the fraternities use Roman letters and most people living in dorms smell badly. No synopsis could do this justice and I pity the fool who thinks this is another House Bunny or Man of the House. The four main characters work at a suicide prevention center where they teach depressed students how to dance. At the center they come across students named Mad Marge, Depressed Debbie, Freak and Positive Polly. They only dole out doughnuts and coffee to clinically depressed people who are actually diagnosed. There is a scene where Greta is asking for a doughnut and Aubrey Plaza (Debbie Downer) complains that Greta is only on a downward spiral and not actually clinically depressed. Thus, no doughnut.  It is an odd scene.

Damsels in Distress Aubrey Plaza

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I got into the flow of this film and never looked back. In order to enjoy Damsels in Distress you have to listen and appreciate the insanity unfolding in front of your eyes. I’ve never watched something like this before and not sure there will be another like it. You will most certainly be a launching pad for Greta Gerwig and her unique style. I’m glad she survived Arthur and is back in Greenberg mode.

Watch Damsels in Distress. Dig the world. Appreciate the weirdness. Ignore the self-consciousness.

Damsels in Distress Greta Gerwig

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