Film & TV

"Damsels in Distress" a Toe-Tapping College-Girl Fantasy

On her first day at Seven Oaks College, transfer student Lily (Analeigh Tipton) is scooped up by a trio of prepossessed coeds who school her on campus culture and their own oddly refined sensibilities. Cardigan-clad ringleader Violet (Greta Gerwig), prim Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke), and petite Heather (Carrie MacLemore) preach the virtues of good hygiene, dating less-intelligent boys, and suicide prevention via the restorative potential of tap dancing. Lily serves as our disoriented guide — and increasingly emboldened voice of reason — through this refracted, artificial world. Yet while she's a more relatable Everygirl, it is anachronistic, hopelessly romantic, impeccably mannered Violet who prevails as the heroine. When her mouth-breathing boyfriend ditches her for a more sexually aggressive gal, she falls apart almost as a matter of decorum. Her bounce-back? Hope for a new, self-authored dance craze called the sambola. Dancing breaks just because, and all the cardigans and brass-buttoned blazers in the world can't cloak that kind of eccentricity.

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Eric Hynes