damsels in distress

Damsels in Distress

Greta Gerwig, Adam Brody

Directed by Whit Stillman
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3.5
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
April 5, 2012

Things are looking up: Whit Stillman has made another movie, his first since 1998's The Last Days of Disco completed the urbane, preppy trilogy begun with Metropolitan and Barcelona. So welcome Damsels in Distress, an exhilarating gift of a comedy about college, the female intellect, the limitless male ego, inventing a new dance, and suicide prevention.

Greta Gerwig, the darling, leads the all-aces cast as Violet, a sophomore who yearns to make Seven Oaks U. a more congenial place for her and cohorts Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke), Heather (Carrie MacLemore) and Lily (Analeigh Tipton). Affronted by dorms that reek of soggy sweat socks, the girls seek to honor the best in a liberal-arts education and perfumed soap. Their good works extend to helping depressed students. Violet herself fights the old ennui after being dumped by Frank (Ryan Metcalf), a frat boy whose dimness is rivaled only by his roommate Thor's (a wondrous Billy Magnussen). No wonder she takes up with Charlie (a stellar Adam Brody), who longs for days of gay sublimation and aspiring to something higher than "muscle-bound morons running around in T-shirts."

At the end, the characters whirl around to the Sambola, Violet's dance, and hide their secret hearts. This is the world as Stillman sees it, and to luxuriate for two hours in that retro bubble of sparkling wit is a pleasure not to be missed.

Whit Stillman and Mark Leyner on Their First Projects in 15 Years
Prep Auteur Whit Stillman Returns with a College Comedy

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Try a Little Tenderness”

    Otis Redding | 1966

    This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

    More Song Stories entries »