After 12 years of silence, Whit Stillman, to young American haute bourgeoisie what Akira Kurosawa was to ronin samurai, has returned to feature film directing. Damsels in Distress, theoretically released in 2011 in order to qualify for various cinema awards is about to start showing in the theaters.
The New York Times‘ description sounds exactly like a Whit Stillman flick.
â€œDamsels in Distressâ€ follows four college girls, Heather, Lily, Rose and Violet, as they grapple with problems ranging from love troubles to toxic frat-house odors and suicide attempts by education majors who insist on throwing themselves off two-story buildings. (â€œIf they canâ€™t even destroy themselves, how are they going to teach Americaâ€™s youth?â€ Rose asks.) The students at Seven Oaks, the fictional college, have a lot in common with the preppies and patricians of â€œMetropolitanâ€ (1990), â€œBarcelonaâ€ (1994) and â€œThe Last Days of Discoâ€ (1998), the autobiographical trilogy that prompted reviewers to call Stillman â€œthe WASP Woody Allenâ€ and â€œthe Dickens of people with too much inner life.â€ They grope for direction but are seldom lost for words, and beneath their barmy crotchets and pretentious dissertations thereâ€™s heartache and yearning. Stillman is the knight-errant of sneered-at bourgeois values. He extols the overlooked merits of convention and the hidden virtues of the status quo. Inveighing against â€œcool peopleâ€ and the social cachet of â€œuniqueness, eccentricity, independence,â€ the transfer student Lily asks: â€œDoes the world really want or need more of such traits? Arenâ€™t such people usually terrible pains in the neck? What the world needs to work properly is a large mass of normal people â€” Iâ€™d like to be one those.â€