Damsels in Distress (2012)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Damsels in Distress can sometimes feel mannered and outlandish, but it's redeemed by director Whit Stillman's oddball cleverness and Greta Gerwig's dryly funny performance.

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Movie Info

Whit Stillman's Damsels in Distress is a comedy about a trio of beautiful girls as they set out to revolutionize life at a grungy American university - the dynamic leader Violet Wister (Greta Gerwig), principled Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and sexy Heather (Carrie MacLemore). They welcome transfer student Lily (Analeigh Tipton) into their group which seeks to help severely depressed students with a program of good hygiene and musical dance numbers. The girls become romantically entangled with a series of men-including smooth Charlie (Adam Brody), dreamboat Xavier (Hugo Becker) and the mad frat pack of Frank (Ryan Metcalf) and Thor (Billy Magnussen)-who threaten the girls' friendship and sanity... -- (C) Sony Pictures Classics
Rating:
PG-13 (for mature thematic content including some sexual material)
Genre:
Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 limited
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:

Cast

Greta Gerwig
as Violet
Adam Brody
as Fred Packenstacker/Fred Packenstacker/Charlie Walker
Hugo Becker
as Xavier
Alia Shawkat
as Mad Madge
Nick Blaemire
as "Freak" Astaire
Taylor Nichols
as Professor Black
Aubrey Plaza
as Depressed Debbie
Zach Woods
as Rick DeWolfe
Domenico D'Ippolito
as Complainer Student
Joe Coots
as Barman
Cortez Nance Jr.
as Groundskeeper
Aja Naomi King
as Positive Polly
Jordanna Drazin
as Emily Tweeter
Madison Cerniglia
as Classmate 1
Veronica Mu
as Classmate 2
Laila Drew
as Young Rose
Carolyn Farina
as At the Dinner: Carolina Antonucci
George Atkinson
as Sincere Highway Worker
Jonnie Louis Brown
as Fresh Highway Worker
Doug Yasuda
as Professor Ryan
Todd Bartels
as Charlie's Friend 1
Edward T. Martin
as Charlie's Friend 2
Max Lodge
as ALA Pamphlet Guy
Bryce Burke
as Gladiator
Jared Burke
as "Cary" (Jumper)
Clare Halpine
as Cary's Girlfriend
Colleen Dengel
as Seminar Cynthia
Will Storie
as D.U. Brother "hygiene"
Christopher Angerman
as D.U. Brother "boots"
Edward Martin
as Charlie's Friend 2
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Critic Reviews for Damsels in Distress

All Critics (131) | Top Critics (43)

Like a degree in gender studies, there's no payoff.

Full Review… | May 3, 2012
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

The film would probably drag if it weren't so perfectly cast, especially with the gawky-beautiful Gerwig as its center.

Full Review… | May 3, 2012
Detroit News
Top Critic

For the most part, it's a film filled with simple pleasures...

Full Review… | April 27, 2012
Film.com
Top Critic

Damsels in Distress ambles about amiably without much of a narrative: Plot has never been Stillman's strong suit, and in this film he seems particularly indifferent to its demands.

Full Review… | April 26, 2012
Miami Herald
Top Critic

There's a self-consciousness to "Damsels" that takes away much of the fun.

April 26, 2012
Seattle Times
Top Critic

While the comedy might be patchy, Gerwig and Stillman make for quite the two-step.

Full Review… | April 24, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Damsels in Distress

I watched half an hour and couldn't take any more. That old time style of talking really grates on me and is part of the reason I don't enjoy period films. This isn't even a period piece despite its retro look. Quite disappointed. I like Greta Gerwig generally, and this looked like it would have potential. Nope.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

½

This movie strikes a tone that few before it have, and presents a undergraduate environment as one in which people aren't who they seem to be and are always putting on airs to disguise their weakness of spirit, morals or intellect. The ending was wacky and I couldn't get my head around it, but for most of the film the characters and the conversations were interesting despite the uncommon language they used. The film is full of little ironies and the characters hypocritical, and yet, it doesn't come off as satirical; in fact, I found I could relate to it, more than five years after finishing my BA. The cripplingly good intentions are something to behold, as is the self-obsession and projection, but what's remarkable about the movie is that it's still all rather happy... and not in that saccharine or hollowly nostalgic way that college movies usually are; I genuinely liked these characters while simultaneously watching them be repulsive. A solid story of anti-heroes that would play well with fans of HBO's Girls or Sex and the City (the TV series, not the cheap cinematic cash-ins), and a film that can generate a lot of discussion about altruism and whether or not it's completely dead. Worth checking out, if only because no two people will read it the same way.

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

½

Two people who are no better suited to work together. Independent filmmaker and actress Greta Gerwig and legendary script writer and director Whit Stillman unite for his first film in thirteen years, and his first recognized film in some twenty. Both of them have been delightful in most films they make, and as both of them linger in the obscure, young, and bourgeoisie, it's only fitting that they came together and made a film together. What's kind of baffling is why Stillman is coming back to films now, and why he decided to make this film of all things. At least in his coveted and award nominated "Metropolitan" he was speaking about a kind of people that actually existed, who he as a young man had met. Those people were as strange and high minded as some of the characters here, but they had an element of greed, naiveté, and true agency. This is definitely of a completely different element, flaunting eccentricities and quirkiness over realism. While his earlier work blossomed formerly lonesome characters into greedy socialites, here he is talking about a generation he doesn't know about and doesn't connect to. Gerwig doesn't help in the matter either, deciding to be odd in lieu of developing any character. The film follows a group of college girls, with the affinity of fifties' debutantes, and plants them into the world of college without showing much outside of social forays, and not realistic ones either. Most of what is charming and offbeat happens when the characters stop trying to hide themselves in their quirky personalities; when the layers of strangeness are peeled back and we see the depths of the characters' struggles and want to belong. That and the jock humor, which realizes a new level of dumb and destructive. Violet's (Gerwig) desire to start a dance craze, help suicidal people, and her love for idiots, gained nothing and didn't further the plot along, which ruined all the buildup she had managed throughout the film. I would say that the only performance that wasn't odd was from newcomer Analeigh Tipton ("Warm Bodies") as the outsider who takes this all in. I don't understand those who find this trilling, light as wind chimes, when it's too obvious and comes off more like a timpani.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

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