Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dept. of More There Than Meets The Eye

Good post by Glenn Kenny on Whit Stillman's fizzy search for order, from Metropolitan to the new Damsels in Distress.
I understand the film's lead character, Violet, played beautifully by Greta Gerwig, seen above, as both a Stillman spokesperson and self-criticism, and I mean that entirely in an intellectual sense—I don't believe this film is any type of confessional in the conventional sense. Let us take just one example of the Violet view of the world/life. When Violet talks about finding the scent of a bar of motel courtesy soap to be "transformative," yes, it's funny, but it's not entirely a joke. Personal hygiene as a touchstone of not just physical and mental health but also of moral order—I think this is an idea that Stillman takes very seriously indeed. But he is also acutely aware as to how peculiar this idea at first appears in the "real" world that's outside the movie, and how Violet's championing of this makes her seem a little ridiculous. The whole scheme of the movie's whimsy rests on this tension, which is why the delivery of the dialogue in this picture is by necessity a trifle more formal and declamatory than it was in Stillman's prior films, which, you know, have LOTS of dialogue.

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