Film / Damsels in Distress

Damsels in Distress is a 2012 comedy written and directed by Whit Stillman, starring Greta Gerwig, Analeigh Tipton, Adam Brody, Megalyn Echikunwoke, and Carrie MacLemore.

Violet (Gerwig), Rose (Echikunwoke), and Heather (MacLemore) are three students at an East Coast Ivy League university who feel it is their mission in life is to save their fellow students from themselves. They run a suicide prevention center, encourage hygiene and try and change the less intelligent and mature of the men on campus by dating them. When new student Lily (Tipton) arrives, they eagerly take her under their wing and into their well-meaning but eccentric crusade to make the world a better place.

Not to be confused with Distressed Damsel.

This film contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Disorder: when Violet was a girl, she would perform various actions in an obsessive-compulsive manner, starting all over again if she couldn't do them right ten times in a row.
  • Brainless Beauty: Heather is the most conventionally pretty of the girls and by far the dumbest.
  • Catchphrase: "A playboy or operator move."
  • Dance Sensation: Featured in the ending sequence of the film as part of Violet's attempt to start a new dance craze. The moves are explained in titles which appear during the sequence.
  • Decoy Protagonist: At first it looks like Lily will be the main character but gradually it becomes clear that this is Violet's story.
  • The Ditz: Thor and Frank - the latter insists his eyes must be colourless rather than blue because if they were blue wouldn't everything he looks at be a shade of blue?
  • Fauxreigner: Rose is actually American but has been speaking with a cut glass English accent for a decade after a six week trip to London.
  • Floral Theme Naming: Violet, Rose, Heather, Lily.
  • Insistent Terminology: Violet isn't depressed, she's in a tailspin.
  • The Polly Anna: Violet, in a weird very composed sort of way.
  • Pride Parade: One day Lily and Thor were in town together, and saw "a parade with rainbow flags." This was a problem for Thor, who is so dim that he doesn't know the names of colours.
  • Proper Lady: Violet.
  • Signs of Disrepair: the first time that we see the
    one word has fallen off the sign. You can probably guess which one.
  • Sudden Musical Ending
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: The Damsels — an arrogant clique trying to shape their university to their way of thinking — would be the Rich Bitch villains in most other movies, but we get to know them and for all their eccentricities and flaws they are deeply lovable. Likewise the dimwitted jocks of the local fraternities are adorable goofs, while characters who would normally be heroes in a university story — the editor of the college paper and a depressed goth girl — come across as judgmental jerks.
  • Unfortunate Names: We find out that Violet Wister was born Emily Tweeter ("What, like a bird?").