Whit Stillman hasn't made a movie since 1998—The Last Days of Disco
, with Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny. He's back now with Damsels in Distress
, a mannered, high-falutin cupcake comedy about a quartet of girls (led by indie It girl Greta Gerwig, The Future of American Acting TM) who have decided that they would live as if they were going to college in more refined times, all sweater sets and primness. When not trying to better themselves, they run the campus suicide prevention centre (to better others). The tone is equal parts whimsy and wicked, a modern-day 1930s comedy complete with tap-dancing and a closing musical number. It's completely absurd, and though overlong, completely hilarious. There are nice turns from Annaleigh Tipton and Adam Brody, and Gerwig's performance is unlike anything we've seen from her. Known for her naturalistic turns in Greenberg
and Hannah Takes the Stairs
, Gerwig's Violet is mannered, curt, precise—the opposite of mumbly.