Damsels in Distress, writer-director Whit Stillman's first film in 13 years, is a comedic fable set at a fictional college in the East at some indeterminate time that seems like the present but might as well not be. An early scene finds a group of beautiful young women walking across a quadrangle, bathed in the hallucinatory light typically associated with pupil dilation.
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Each is named after a flower: Violet, Heather, Rose, and Lily. Each speaks beautifully, but it's Violet (Greta Gerwig) whose Byzantine sentences yield the most plums. And that's why you watch Whit Stillman movies, isn't it? To listen to people talk like you wish they would. And to watch attractive people cut each other into tiny ribbons while feigning sympathy. Damsels has all this, as well as singing, dancing, and über-WASP Stillman's first "ethnic" leads. Greta Gerwig is a vision, redeeming the unfortunate drip she played in Greenberg with bravura bossiness.