by Rob Boylan
It's kind of an asshole thing to do, to take a trailer so seriously, but this is kind of an extraordinary circumstance. Whit Stillman, he of Oscar nomination fame for the wonderful Metropolitan, has not released a film since The Last Days of Disco in 1998, despite being almost universally beloved by independent films fans. At some point, Noah Baumbach stepped in and became the new Whit Stillman (even going so far as to cast Chris Eigeman in Kicking and Screaming) and suddenly the real Whit Stillman couldn't get financing.
So the worst thing that any filmmaker could face has happened to Stillman: the building expectations of time, where a film as good as Metropolitan, since released by Criterion, has only grown in stature in the mind.
It's an extremely unfair thing for a filmmaker to face. Just ask Francis Ford Coppola, who has been chasing Apocalypse Now for the last 35 years, whose new film, Twixt, failed to secure significant distribution, even with a cast of Val Kilmer and Elle Fanning.
Like the trailer for Twixt, I found myself in a disappointed state of "huh?" after watching the first trailer for Damsels in Distress.
Stillman has always been known for a certain unreal, unnatural but deliciously stylized dialogue more than story. And that's there, but -- at least in this trailer -- without the charming deliciousness of the past, of the like of Chris Eigeman, Carolyn Farina or Taylor Nichols. This trailer feels more like a Heathers or Jawbreaker than a Whit Stillman film. I hope my "huh?" was premature and in error, but it worries me. It worries me deeply.
Here's the trailer:
And also a clip released back in September: