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Damsels in Distress

Damsels in Distress

Director: Whit Stillman, Greta Gerwig, Carrie MacLemore, Megalyn Echikunwoke

Cast: Whit Stillman, Greta Gerwig, Carrie MacLemore, Megalyn Echikunwoke


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Oscar-nominated filmmaker Whit Stillman (The Last Days of Disco) returns to the director's chair for the first time in 13 years with this comedy set at an East Coast university and centering on the trials of four female undergrads who seek to make life better for the entire student body.


Oscar-nominated filmmaker Whit Stillman (The Last Days of Disco) returns to the director's chair for the first time in 13 years with this comedy set at an East Coast university and centering on the trials of four female undergrads who seek to make life better for the entire student body. Violet Wister (Greta Gerwig) is a natural-born leader. Together with the help of her conscientious friend Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and their gorgeous pal Heather (Carrie MacLemore), Violet uses aroma and musical therapy to help her possibly suicidal classmates. When newly arrived transfer student Lily (Analeigh Tipton) seeks admission into their social circle, she's welcomed with open arms. While Lily appreciates having a group to be a part of, she soon realizes that Violet may not be a flawless friend.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Thirteen years passed between writer/director Whit Stillman's third film, The Last Days of Disco, and his fourth, the charmingly quirky Damsels in Distress. In some ways, it's like he never missed a beat: Damsels revels in the sharp dialogue and funny character quirks that defined Stillman's earlier movies. In other ways, though, time reveals how little he's seemed to develop during his extended absence. The movie centers on a group of female college friends led by Violet (Greta Gerwig), a talkative, determined young woman just as intent on keeping her campus' suicide-prevention center opened and staffed as she is on starting a popular dance craze -- she believes dance can cure the depressed. Her clique soon takes in transfer student Lily (Analeigh Tipton), who is thankful to find new friends so quickly. In addition to their never-ending quest to improve the mental health of the student body, the ladies also end up involved in a variety of romantic misadventures with frat boys, heartthrobs, and older men. There really isn't much of a plot in Damsels in Distress, and the characters never quite cohere into three-dimensional people. Perhaps that's because Stillman never figured out if Violet or Lily was the protagonist, and as a result, he never decided on what story he wanted to tell. Much of that can be forgiven, however, just because the whole thing flowers as a goofy comedy. Gerwig and Tipton do have superb comic timing, and Stillman knows how to edit in order to maximize laughs. He firmly establishes Violet's alpha-female persona, as well as her plans on how to manipulate and secure the perfect boyfriend, before pulling the rug out from under her and letting us know that she's far from a reliable narrator. Lily, on the other hand, is a wide-eyed innocent, and she immediately becomes the audience surrogate because she meets these new friends for the first time just as we do. Her romantic storyline is in many ways the most interesting, but Stillman sacrifices evolving it into something more because he can't resist going back to Violet's wacky ways. The writing establishes the movie's unique comedic tone early on and stays with it consistently. Stillman's arch, overly ornate, yet exceedingly precise dialogue is the aural equivalent of Wes Anderson's playful but rigidly composed visuals. There's also an element of early Woody Allen in Stillman's ability to use overly articulate language to tell occasionally dirty and often ridiculously silly jokes. You might find you're not laughing anymore, but you'll appreciate how devoted the movie is to keeping you amused right down to the end credits (which might be the funniest of the year). All those laughs are welcome, but what's missing from Damsels is the sense of a bigger picture. Stillman's earlier films all played like generational statements as well as warmhearted comedies; they attempted to address bigger issues. This movie is pure silliness from beginning to end -- even suicide is treated with a light whimsy that would be off-putting or even offensive in lesser hands. After nearly a decade and a half away, Stillman has come up with his funniest -- yet least compelling -- movie.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Commentary With Whit Stillman and Cast; An Evening with Damsels in Distress: Q & A with Whit Stillman and Cast; Damsels in Distress: Behind-the-Scenes; Deleted Scenes; Outtakes

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Greta Gerwig Violet
Carrie MacLemore Heather
Megalyn Echikunwoke Rose
Analeigh Tipton Lily
Adam Brody Fred Packenstacker/Charlie Walker
Hugo Becker Xavier
Billy Magnussen Thor
Ryan Metcalf Frank
Caitlin Fitzgerald Priss
Jermaine Crawford Jimbo
Alia Shawkat Mad Madge
Nick Blaemire "Freak" Astaire
Taylor Nichols Professor Black
Aubrey Plaza Depressed Debbie
Zach Woods Rick DeWolfe
Domenico D'Ippolito Complainer Student
Meredith Hagner Alice
Joe Coots Barman
Cortez Nance Groundskeeper
Aja Naomi King Positive Polly
Jordanna Drazin Emily Tweeter
Madison Cerniglia Classmate 1
Veronica Mu Classmate 2
Laila Drew Young Rose
Carolyn Farina At the Dinner: Carolina Antonucci
Shinnerrie Jackson Sharise
George Atkinson Sincere Highway Worker
Jonnie Louis Brown Fresh Highway Worker
Shawn Williams Campus Cop
Doug Yasuda Professor Ryan
Todd Bartels Charlie's Friend 1
Edward Martin Charlie's Friend 2
Max Lodge ALA Pamphlet Guy
Bryce Burke Gladiator
Jared Burke "Cary" (Jumper)
Clare Halpine Cary's Girlfriend
Colleen Dengel Seminar Cynthia
Will Storie D.U. Brother "hygiene"
Christopher Angerman D.U. Brother "boots"

Technical Credits
Whit Stillman Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Kerry Barden Casting
Justin Cerne Choreography
Anya Colloff Casting
Charlie Dibe Co-producer
Douglas Emmett Cinematographer
Liz Glotzer Producer
Brian Goodwin Art Director
Andrew Hafitz Editor
Elizabeth J. Jones Production Designer
Amy McIntyre-Britt Casting
Adam Schlesinger Score Composer
Paul Schnee Casting
Martin Shafer Producer
Curtis Smith Asst. Director
Michael Sterkin Sound/Sound Designer
Anouck Sullivan Makeup
Mark Suozzo Score Composer
Ciera Wells Costumes/Costume Designer


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