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Monday, January 14, 2013

"Damsels in Distress", a hipster comedy?

Damsels in Distress

Here's a good film to start a debate about the "meaning" of making films, about the purpose of cinema. After watching a film like "Damsels in Distress" the question came to my mind again: should a director think on the audience when filming? or exclusively on what he/she wants to say?

Because this film is an attempt of making a really original comedy, but it doesn't work (I would add at all), or I guess it just works for director Whit Stillman and his legion of fans. I ask myself: what's the purpose of a comedy? making you laugh and/or have a good time, and if the film is very good, do that while making you think. "Damsels in Distress" doesn't make you laugh and sorry, I don't think it really wants to say anything. But what puzzles me more is that I don't believe Stillman cares about that.

Deadpan, off-beat comedies I have seen a few, is not that surprising, but I can guarantee you watching this film is an odd experience, at least for a (long) while.The dialogues on which the characters are involved are unique. But they are not just surreal or crazy, which could lead to a very suggestive film (like Spanish masterpiece "Amanece Que No es Poco", the recent "Submarine" or the craziest moments on Woody Allen's or Wes Anderson's filmography). Dialogues and characters attitudes are pretentiously ironic (I concede the qualification of pretentious, for sure) off-putting, deliberately bizarre and to me, frequently irritating. It really takes a while and a considerable effort to go on for the viewer.

If you do, you'll find yourself more or less involved in its college story, one where guys are desperately stupids (some fun here) and girls completely insufferable. But in my case at least, I went on just for the sake of figuring out whether or not there was a goal, an end, a conclusion where all these strange kids could reveal something, not because I was going to find something satisfying. And although by the middle of it you get used to this sort of awkward humour and occasionally you will laugh, once the credits end, there's nothing to talk about or worth remembering. Just a very eccentric film, just for the sake of being eccentric. Right now I'm thinking of a dozen of ultra-cool indie bands, with enjoy quite a successful position on alternative industry who, of course in my opinion, "sell" that sort of eccentricity... while lacking songs. Yes, know I get why Stillman and hipster are words commonly used in the same sentence. Unfortunately, is that meaning of hipster that means: "Look how I wear! Check my instagram! Read my very important tweet in the middle of a concert! and How I scream the only song I know about the NEXT BIG THING Pitchfork magazine has written about!"... Sorry about the rant.

Then again, I'm pretty sure Stillman must be satisfied with his work, achieving what he was aiming for or how he directed the cast (I have read fantastic comments on Greta Gerwig's performance, is true she's convincing on her role... but unfortunately is also part of this film). But sorry, is that enough? That makes Stillman an author? I doubt it, because I can only qualify "Damsels in Distress" as a seriously failed film. Or at the very least, a film that wasn't for me.

SCORE: 4,25/10

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