Violet and her two cohorts attempt to help their "less-fortunate" students at Seven Oaks College - primarily by running a Suicide Prevention Centre and offering their off-beat advice whenever they get a chance. Violet's newest rescue is transfer student, Lily, and Violet wants to teach her how to talk and dress properly, and how to select appropriate men to be interested in. Along their way in helping everybody at the college, the damsels teach the fraternity doofi to hit the books, they get their hearts broken, but then attempt to start an international dance craze. Written by
Stillman's first feature in 13 years investigates the merciless social rules within a campus: it's fun, as wittily and entertainingly dialogued as his previous efforts, but way more off-beat and darkly screwballish. It almost plays as an intellectual version of cult favorite "Heathers" (it might be no coincidence if it also revolves around a bunch of co-eds named after flowers), sparing us the B-movieish third act of Michael Lehmann's film. Lots of fun, with a musical twist around the end that might be able to improve the film's chances to cult-ness.
I caught "Damsels in Distress" in Venice, where it was selected out of competition as the closing film for 2011's festival. Audience was quite appreciative, laughing out loud throughout the whole screening.
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