Here is the trailer for Damsel In Distress, produced, written, and directed by Woody Allen-habitué Whit Stillman. It is about a trio of friends traipsing about doing good and effecting change on their male-dominated college campus.
Greta Gerwig, accompanied by acolytes Megalyn Echikunwoke and Carrie MacLemore, plays the smart, uptight, and naive leader of the group who promises to defeat "male barbarism" and prescribes tap dance and donuts as a cure for depression. Think a cheerier Gilmore Girls' Paris Gellar (note: this movie is absolutely not for you if you don't understand this reference). They induct former America's Next Top Model contestant Analeigh Tipton into their club of endearingly flawed coeds (she's too ambitious to love! She's a hopeless klutz!) and the rest is coordinated-dance number, floral-clad history.
Gerwig is always great, and with Aubrey Plaza playing a dark suicide risk and the return of Seth Cohen as himself, the casting is on point. But there is something about the adventures at Seven Oaks University that just seems, I don't know, out of step with the things it's trying to promise. Stillman seems so caught up in piling on the whimsy that the whole thing comes off a bit flimsy instead.
Do you remember 1998's All I Wanna Do, starring Kirsten Dunst, Gaby Hoffman, and Rachel Leigh Cook? It's great and that's what I want this to be in terms of a movie that portrays the real whimsy and magic of strong female friendships forged at school. For now though, it's teetering on the line between justifiably quirky and annoyingly cutesy. Why, for example, does Gerwig look like 1968? Between the French scarves, the title cards, and the music, it's hard not be skeptical. Damsels just looks like a whole lot of tap dancing around a much bigger story that we won't really get to see.
Damsels will be in theaters (in limited release) on April 6.