Kerry Brown/Sony Pictures Classics
Lisa Schwarzbaum
April 09, 2012 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Damsels in Distress

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
99 minutes
performer
Adam Brody, Greta Gerwig
director
Whit Stillman
distributor
Sony Pictures Classics

We gave it an C+

In Damsels in Distress, the contemporary young women and men at the leafy East Coast college called Seven Oaks carry on as if it’s 1961. Whatever imaginary era writer-director Whit Stillman has in mind, the customs he explores in this wan, self-consciously talky little drama intrigue him more than they do his audience. Some two decades after Stillman gracefully dissected New York debutante society in Metropolitan, he’s still drawn to the tiny troubles of sheltered young people. Only now he’s got the instincts of Rip Van Winkle at a mixer.

If anyone can get away with the faux grandiosity of the dialogue, it ought to be Greenberg‘s Greta Gerwig. Certainly she gives it the old college try, playing the leader of a group of coeds who ”help” depressed students by offering counsel, encouraging good hygiene, and promoting the benefits of social dancing. Gerwig can’t make her character come alive, though, and neither can Adam Brody as one of their neediest male cases. In the midst of the froufrou, lovely, stalklike Analeigh Tipton (Crazy, Stupid, Love) is delightful as a student who enjoys being normal and living in this century. C+

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