"Damsels in Distress" directed by Whit Stillman (2011) is a very odd film. It has had some encouraging reviews so that's why I ordered a copy and watched it last night on the big screen in the social club. Katherine was washing her hair.
It's set in an imagined Ivy League college called Seven Oaks and focuses on the activities and polite conversations of four female students whose mission seems to be to prevent campus suicides and civilise the boorish male population. They are never seen engaging in academic studies.
It has a very light touch with apparently no serious intent whatsoever and as I watched it, not a single chuckle was ignited, not a titter or even a grin. In that respect it reminded me of the truly awful BBC TV sitcom "My Family".Yet another tale of a privileged elite.
I just wasn't interested in the unremarkable characters who populated the film, communicating in the comfortable East Coast tones of wealthy WASP families. A couple of black characters were thrown into the mix for the sake of political correctness - like so many British TV commercials.
In the end I didn't really care what Lily, Violet, Rose and Heather got up to or how they impacted on the caricatures of young men that surrounded them. It had a grinding self-indulgent slowness to it and though of the modern age, the film contained no motor vehicles, mobile phones or computers. Reference to modern day living was rather incidental and actually for me that was almost the only creative crumb of salvation I found in this forgettable movie. In addition, I would say that the "look" of the film is appealing - from costumes to the appearance of rooms - it's well-presented and beautifully edited.
The Daily Telegraph reviewer said that the film has a "deliciously subdued humour that creeps up on you" but I just thought there are so many more interesting stories to tell. Why did Stillman choose to tell this particular story? And aren't comedies supposed to make people laugh? Out of ten I'd give "Damsels in Distress" a generous four.