Damsels in Distress: Heathers, Without Cruel Intentions

Entertainment

The college girls in Whit Stillman’s witty frolic Damsels in Distress, his first film since 1998, seem at the outset to be as horrible as the infamous Heathers trio. They’re pretentious, condescending and travel in a well-dressed pack, albeit one with fashion sense inspired by Nancy Drew. They favor retro recreational activities (tap dance, rather than croquet). One of them is even named Heather (Carrie MacLemore). And the movie opens with their leader, Violet (Greta Gerwig) scouting, as shark-like as anyone wearing a Peter Pan collar can be, for a fourth girl worthy to join their group.

Yet I came to love these loquacious, nutty women, who Stillman seems to have plucked from Jane Austen and rolled in equal parts P.G. Wodehouse and J.D. Salinger before dowsing them with the scent of his uniquely American-preppy sensibility. It’s true that Violet, Heather and Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke, a stunner who speaks…

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By sumitta2012

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