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Mixed or average reviews- based on 32 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 32
  2. Negative: 9 out of 32

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  1. Jan 3, 2014
    This is a wonderful gem of a film. I can see why it's so polarising; you either embrace it or are enraged by it. It's all rather silly really, but oh so magical. Dialogue is whip smart and full of honesty, the performances are excellent, and some scenes are just wonderfully funny. Greta Gerwig is wonderful as always.
  2. Mar 18, 2013
    This movie looks very much like it was forced on Stillman to get financing because it includes many elements from his '90s trilogy, and fans of Metropolitan etc. could be counted on to fill the seats. Or that was the plan. But to me it was obvious that his heart wasn't in it. Instead of eccentric the characters now seem unhinged. Most of the time I couldn't even fathom their goals or motivations. Whoever put the wit in Whit Stillman has taken it back. There is none of the clever dialogue for which his earlier films are celebrated. And the (apparently earnest) attempt to make the "Shambola" a dance craze to help promote the film smells of desperation. In the event the movie flopped so, alas, I don't know where Stillman goes from here. Expand
  3. Feb 24, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. On first viewing, I was slightly bored with this rendering of campus life as Stillman had already produced work on similar enough themes with far more wit. The closing dance number ("Dress Rehearsal") was under-practiced and it is clear that our actors are actors, not dancers.

    And then I watched it again. And I liked it much, much more. I like it more every time I watch it. What a strange characteristic that is for any movie to have.

    Stillman has the beginnings of a new stock of actors and he could potentially go very far with Tipton, Gerwig and Echikunwoke. [Tipton's solitary walk home after being introduced to the Cathar way of expressing love is perfectly done. And I can there be any doubt that a movie with Chloe Sevigny and Gerwig as decade apart sisters is brewing somewheres.] In terms of moving on, Stillman will have to since his old actors have aged out of their ticket selling q while he has been away. Fortunately, Taylor Nichols and Carolyn Farina are onboard for cameos. One can hope that Mr. Stillman has a script about post-college and post-first job out of college issues that he will get the money to produce. I would definitely go....I just might not enjoy the first viewing.
  4. Dec 14, 2012
    I don't have a lot to add to other bad reviews here.... but I will reiterate that this is a triumph of style over substance. I chuckled in places, but I didn't find it interesting enough to finish. The premise and place is so far removed from reality and so isolated into its own nattering world, you just realize it is not going anywhere new after a little while. But it is engaging enough to watch after that point. I can understand some might like it, but if your newest paramour says this is a great film, be a little worried. Expand
  5. Nov 7, 2012
    Clever and touching. Greta Gerwig was brilliant as the elitist, vunerable, crazy Violet. This one caught me completely by surprise. I never used the word doofus in it's plural form before. Good to know.
  6. Sep 30, 2012
    A particularly quirky comedy that has a beat every bit it's own, the most obvious comparison of style I could make is to that of Woody Allen's comedic flourishes, and a sharply written screenplay filled with quick, snappy social insights, that is almost the sole reason to watch. The other reason to watch lies in the inspired performances on display, particularly those of Greta Gerwig and Analeigh Tipton. They both shine here, Gerwig as the bright, passionate leader of the damsels, Tipton as the newest member of the group content with remaining ordinary. Most of the time, it's hard to really get a grasp on what exactly Stilman is saying here, sometimes I'm not sure he's even wanting to say anything at all and is content to just sit back and bask in the absurdity of it all, but the off-beat comic universe that he envelops you in is so secular and wholly original and the style so visually appealing that it's hard to at least not remain consistently interested in 'Damsels in Distress'. Expand
  7. Jun 12, 2012
    I had really high hopes for this film, but they were all crushed. To give you a better sense of how it made me felt, I literally looked over at my aunt who went to see the film with me, and said "That was painful". I understand some people who watch this film are faithful to the writer/director Whit Stillman, but after this, I will never watch any other films of his. What I thought was going to be a cute romantic comedy turned out to be a pretentious mess. Although I have much love for Analeigh Tipton, her part in the film served almost no purpose. Instead it followed Violet, Greta Gerwig, who is extremely unconvincing as the confident lead of a group of young girls. So much of the editing is long and drawn out. This film is filled with so many fade to black transitions that I began counting them. The film's soundtrack was absolutely horrid featuring the same music track in almost every scene. Also, this film was filled with so many cliches and horrible writing. I think one of these reviews says it best, "I imagine there was a more comprehensible first draft and then writer/director Whit Stillman (The Last Days of Disco) pulled the thesaurus off the shelf and went to work." I also know that other people in the theater shared the same sentiment as by the time the film ended, the theatre was nearly half as filled as when I walked in. If you want to watch this film to feel good about your intelligence level and pretentiousness go right on ahead, but I won't drink the Kool-Aid and instead will say that "Bio-Dome" is far more entertaining than this film would ever be. Expand
  8. May 21, 2012
    Easily the weakest of Stillman's first four features, "Damsels in Distress" plays like an odd Ivy League reworking of the 1980s cult film, "Heathers." The problem lies with the Violet character (played by Greta Gerwig). Violet is strange to the point of suggesting mental illness and without a strong access character to counterbalance her the audience is left with no one in which to identify. The closest we have to that character is Lily (Analeigh Tipton), the new girl in Violet's social circle, who sees her with fresh eyes. Meanwhile, the other ladies, Heather (yes, Heather) and Rose are woefully underdeveloped characters. They have no significant role in the plot, except perhaps serving as eye candy for campus frat boys (and the audience). Expand
  9. j30
    May 9, 2012
    I found Damsels In Distress hilarious and one of the best comedies I've seen recently. The dialogue is razor sharp, the actresses are great, particularly Greta Gerwig's character. I admit there's probably one dead spot in the film, but it quickly picks up where it left off.
  10. Apr 27, 2012
    It is said that you should never hit a person when they are down and I am not sure if the same applies to a movie so I will be short. "Dasmels in Distress" will definitely be on my list of the year's worst films if not #1.

    The director doesn't direct his actors how to talk, walk or how to get a scene across. I would like to think it was a generational gap but from the first shot you want
    to slap the leading actress. Oh yes the film was written and directed by the same person and I don't think the director talked to the writer.

    It was good seeing Adam Brody on the large screen and of the rest of the cast only Megalyn Echikunwoke impressed me.

    Put this on your 'must not see' list.
  11. Apr 17, 2012
    Damsels in Distress is perhaps the most pretentious screenplay ever filmed. I imagine there was a more comprehensible first draft and then writer/director Whit Stillman (The Last Days of Disco) pulled the thesaurus off the shelf and went to work. These damsels come across more as ridiculous caricatures than actual flesh and blood characters; nobody could retain any sort of patience around people who talk nonsense the way these girls do. Lily (Analeigh Tipton) arrives as a new transfer student to Seven Oaks University. During orientation, a group of girls seemingly pick her out at random to join their group; perhaps it is because her name fits the floral naming scheme. Violet (Greta Gerwig) is the leader of the bunch followed by her one-dimensional acolytes, Heather (Carrie MacLemore) and Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke). Violet talks incessantly about the goals of the group which include finding and improving boys who are not particularly good looking or intelligent and staffing the volunteer Suicide Prevention Center. The answer as to why a somewhat normal Lily would so eagerly say yes to joining up with this gang and rooming with them is not forthcoming, but then again, there would be no film if she did not.

    Seven Oaks is not your normal university. Instead of a Greek system, they have Roman Letter Houses. So many students are depressed that they take to jumping off the roof of the education building; unfortunately it is only two stories tall so instead of killing themselves they only maim. As for suicide prevention, the route to recovery is neither mood altering pills or talk therapy, but tap dancing led by an instructor calling himself Freak Astaire (Nick Blaemire). I told you; pretentious beyond belief.

    The damsels have incredibly keen senses of smell and frequently sniff soap whenever unhygienic dorm dwellers walk by. They are also exceptionally open and frank about their feelings. Violet thanks Lily for chastising her for being hypocritical about arrogance and routinely references Lily as better looking and skinnier. This sounds duplicitous on Violetâ
  12. Apr 15, 2012
    I usually like dry, tongue-in-cheek humor. But speaking inane, humorless absurdities with a straight face doesn't make them funny. Several critics have used the word "twee" to describe the film; but "sophomoric," annoying," and "of no recognizable entertainment value" would seem more accurate descriptors to me. Miranda July is "twee"; this film was just completely disagreeable.
  13. Apr 14, 2012
    Completely devoid of real human beings and relatable situations. Lots of broad caricatures whose lives and relationships serve only as platform for highbrow one-liners. Clever for no reason and absent of any heart. Stillman is too busy making fun of his characters to ever allow you to empathize with them. I am shocked that critics liked this.
  14. Apr 9, 2012
    I'd put it in 4th of Stillman's four films. There are 2 or 3 absolutely hilarious/absurd moments, but they certainly don't carry the rest of the film for me. Style and verbal cadence can only take you so far without a solid narrative foundation. I eagerly anticipated this film but was sadly a touch bored by it all.

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 33
  2. Negative: 1 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    May 4, 2012
    Damsels in Distress is shockingly tone-deaf. Stillman is still capable of a few amusing quips, but his storytelling is sophomoric.
  2. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Apr 27, 2012
    The performances are all terrific - Stillman gets his actors to latch onto his absurdist vibe, then gives them wonderfully rich dialogue to play with.
  3. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Apr 25, 2012
    Stillman inserts chapter headings and written asides into the proceedings, but none of it helps explain what is before us. The authorial voice in Damsels in Distress lacks definition.