Chief damsel in Whit Stillman’s long awaited filmmaking return following some Malickesque downtime is Violet (Gerwig), an aggressively altruistic college student hellbent on improving her peers. And boy, do they need her help: B.O. is rampant in the last dorm to go coed; suicide attempts from the roof of the campus’s (two-storey) library have seen student maimings skyrocket; one poor frat boy has made it all the way to tertiary education without learning the colours. Problem is, Violet’s the most distressed of the lot, torn as she is between her cheating meathead boyfriend and an enigmatic 'playboy operator' (Brody).
Stillman’s screenplay zings – you’ll find more zippy lines in Damsels than on Charlie Sheen’s coffee table. And despite being shot cheap on HD, the movie is luminous: its pastel frocks, expressionistic lighting and sporadic dance numbers blended with frat house hijinks suggests a Vincente Minnelli remake of Animal House. The casting of the adorkable Gerwig is key here; her screwball sass gives Stillman’s wryness some added spryness. [Jamie Dunn]