Saturday, September 10, 2011

VENICE: "Damsels in Distress" Reactions

Such a delight that Venice goes out on a high note, as one usually expects the closing night of the festival to end in a whimper. That's mostly because most journalists are already Toronto-bound, and we'll get to our covering of that festival when the time comes that I become interested. Suffice it to say that there will be some that are downtrodden to hear that they missed out on something great in Whit Stillman's "Damsels in Distress". Stillman is another example of a director coming back into the fold after a long hiatus, but he's been out for 13 years, so who's to say what he's been up to? In any case, word is positive on his latest. And if Neil Young sounds a bit negative, keep in mind that it's his favorite of the festival.

Guy Lodge (In Contention; ***1/2): "It’s tempting to imagine that the reason for Stillman’s 13-year gap between features is that he was merely waiting for an actress as ideally attuned to his oddball intelligence as Gerwig: a quicksilver comic actress often cornered into passive roles, she’s on gloriously spry, expressive form here, finding reserves of empathy, however blinkered, in a character that many might play as an unremitting nightmare. (Her cohorts are very nearly as impressive, notably Megalyn Echikunwoke, whose gleefully mannered timing seems set to make “playboy and operatOR type” a beloved catchphrase among Stillman fiends.)"

 Neil Young (Hollywood Reporter): "The damsels all get their chance to shine, with Tipton genially appealing as the audience surrogate voice of (relative) common sense. But this is in many ways Gerwig’s show: She’s pitch-perfect here, infuriating and irresistible as a woman genuinely determined to influence world history by inventing a new dance-craze. And while Gerwig continues her steady ascent, relative newcomer Metcalf also emerges as a real find. His Frank is a sweetly dunderheaded oaf, one who’s perhaps a much better match for the refined Violet than she’d ever dare or deign to admit."

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