When I saw Whit Stillman‘s Damels in Distress (Sony Classics, 4.6) in Toronto last September I felt it was too arch by half. Stillman’s films (Metropolitan, Barcelona, Last Days of Disco) are always about people with money and social connections who live in their own rigorously neurotic world. Barcelona is Stillman’s best because it allows the real world into this realm. Damsels, sorry to say, feels entangled in a system of forced whimsy, like it was shot on the grounds of an insane asylum for hipsters.
“By the time Damsels in Distress winds its way toward its closing musical number — a singing, dancing outdoor ensemble rendering of George and Ira Gershwin‘s ‘Things Are Looking Up’ — its romantic charms, meager to begin with, have worn thin, like a tweed jacket gone threadbare at the elbows. The thing has the feel of a vanity project, lacking urgency — like the work of a gentleman filmmaker who doesn’t have to work.” — from Stephanie Zacharek‘s Movieline review.