So it turned out that Damsels in Distress was the LFF Surprise Film. Which certainly surprised me.
With all the talk of Moneyball, The Rum Diary, My Week With Marilyn and The Iron Lady, this quirky Greta Gerwig comedy seemed to shoot out of nowhere. And I’m glad it did. It was whimsical, charming, and consistently funny throughout.
Now, it wasn’t a choice for everyone, and it can certainly be accused of being too quirky or too full of whimsy. It basically follows a group of dumb college girls at an East Coast University, their attempts to spread happiness and prevent suicide, and the relationships they engage in with even less intelligent men.
It’s a rambling film that doesn’t have much in the way of plot other than a few comedy situations thrown together, the editing is at times messy, the sound mixing is off (in that the repetitive but delightfully fluffy score is too loud), and the characters are a bit flat. Now, that makes it sound terrible. And there will be people calling it terrible for these reasons. But what it does have is a well written script – full of funny lines and witty comebacks – and ‘The Gerwig’ on top form.
Greta Gerwig has developed a cult following and it’s easy to see why – she’s ridiculously likable in this despite playing someone is self obsessed and, she admits, crazy. Less likable is Analeigh Tipton, last seen contributing a talentless performance to Crazy Stupid Love (I’m refusing to use that film’s stupid punctuation) and who is previously know for being on America’s Next Top Model – which explains it all really. The supporting characters played by Adam Brody and a handful of newcomers are all a little underdeveloped, though at times very funny. They all get some good lines and show solid comic timing. But ultimately, it’s Gerwig’s show.
For all its flaws, Damsels in Distress made me laugh out loud a helluva lot. For that I would highly recommend it. Fluffy, enjoyable and funny with a satirical look at the current state of American education and social cliques, it’s quite possibly this generation’s Clueless or Mean Girls.