Damsels in Distress

The films of writer-director Whit Stillman, the WASP Woody Allen, are very much an acquired taste and Damsels in Distress, his first movie in 13 years, is no exception.

Set on the campus of a fictional East Coast college, this droll, quirky comedy of manners revolves around a clique of young women who have made it their mission to civilise the boorish male student population and to pep up the severely depressed with donuts, scented soap and tap dancing.

Whether you find their endeavours charming or irritating will be down to you, but even fans of Stillman’s earlier films, Metropolitan (1989), Barcelona (1994) and The Last Days of Disco (1998), may find his new work uneven. I’m not convinced that everyone in the cast can cope with the film’s delicately odd tone, but indie favourite Greta Gerwig, who plays the group’s briskly confident leader, Violet, pulls off Stillman’s whimsical conceits with old-fashioned panache.

Gerwig and her co-stars join Stillman for the laid-back and good-humoured commentary that is among the DVD extras, along with a behind-the-scenes look at the film, a filmed Q&A with the makers and deleted scenes.

Movie Talk star rating:

Released on DVD by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on Monday 20th August.

[swf]http://uk.player.filmtrailer.com/v3.1/&mid=10118&channel_user_id=441100180-1&repeat=1&volume=0[/swf]

To activate the sound in the trailer: hold your cursor over the screen to reveal the control panel and click on the volume control in the bottom right-hand corner.