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Damsels In Distress Movie Review

30-Oct-2012 | By Sarah Gooding

Damsels In Distress Movie Review

It’s not entirely obvious whether Damsels In Distress is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek or serious. This comedy from the director of The Last Days of Disco recalls the Mean Girls trope of a group of overachievers trying to run the roost at an upper-class school, imposing their societal standards on the supposed lesser-humans in the male dorms – except these girls are nice, pseudo-intellectual and very upper class. But there’s something disconcerting about their overstated warmth. When the bourgeois trio, lead by Greta Gerwig’s character Violet, takes newbie Lily, (played by Analeigh Tipton) under their wing, there’s almost a sinister undertone to the scenario. They stride around campus in their prim and proper ‘60s-style skirts and shirts, imparting their ideas on how to turn wayward boys into respectable young adults. It’s like a weird social experiment. Violet outlines it: “Our aspirations are pretty simple. Take a guy who hasn’t realised his full potential or doesn’t even have much. And then help him realise it, or find more.” While the wordy intentions can get in the way, occasional lines and scenes are charming. “No case is too hard or challenging… would you like a donut?” Violet asks at the “Suicide Prevention Center”, whose sign keeps breaking so that it reads “Suicide Center”. The predictable conflict comes in the form of unrequited love and betrayals. This, and the feeling that the story wasn’t really progressing anywhere, gave the film a meandering feel that made it hard to watch.

I gained a love/hate relationship with the characters, particularly Violet, feeling that I should love her nerdy nature and unfaltering enthusiasm, but her know-it-all conceit ultimately outweighed this. Aubrey Plaza delivers an enjoyable performance as strung out and suicidal Debbie, who Violet tries to placate by teaching her to tap dance. While plotlines such as this are enjoyable, the deadpan delivery is overkill.