An interview with Adam Brody and Analeigh Tipton
If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to see a Whit Stillman film, be it his 1990 debut, METROPOLITAN, or his biggest success, 1998’s THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO, then you know that his musings on how the other half live are as challenging as they are whimsical and sharply satirical while still forgiving. You don’t have to have heard of him to work with him though.
“I was on the set of CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE. and people were asking me what I was going to do next,” says Analeigh Tipton, one of the title characters from Stillman’s latest, DAMSELS IN DISTRESS. “I was thinking about this Whit Stillman thing and Julianne Moore just spun around in her chair and was like, ‘You have to do this; It’s Whit Stillman!’”
Do it, she did. Tipton plays Lily, the new girl on campus who is taken in by a trio of sorority girls. It isn’t long before she is tangled up in boy trouble and suicide prevention tap classes. One boy who causes her distress is the handsome guy next door, Charlie, played by Adam Brody.
“I had to look up some words and philosophies and history to know what I was talking about sometimes,” Brody tells me of his first impressions of Stillman’s script. “I find that his pattern is so rhythmic, so musical, that there’s a reason that no one gives a bad performance in a Whit Stillman film. Everyone’s good in them.”
Brody may not be modest but he isn’t actually wrong either. The performances are not all perfect but they all work in the context of the Stillman universe. Tipton confirms, “You have to challenge yourself to find the truth in everything you say when its such a unique language.”
The truth in DAMSELS IN DISTRESS is about depression and how you shouldn’t let it get you down, if that makes any sense. Brody explains it better. “Part of the problem when you’re depressed is that everything is the end of the world. If you can have fun with it, de-dramatize it, and laugh at it a little bit, perhaps that is actually a decent therapy.”
And the same can be said about a good Stillman movie, if case you’ve never been fortunate enough to see one.
DAMSELS IN DISTRESS
Written and Directed by Whit Stillman
Starring Greta Gerwig, Adam Brody and Analeigh Tipton
A group of sorority girls decide to take on depression and suicide prevention, whilst grooming the fraternity riffraff into respectable young men, in Whit Stillman’s DAMSELS IN DISTRESS, his first film since 1998’s THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO. It isn’t long before the boys resort to their baser needs though, causing the ladies to need their own therapy. The ensemble cast, led by Greta Gerwig and Adam Brody, are all delightful. True to Stillman’s form, everyone speaks with great enunciation and elaborate vocabulary, yet the tone remains light and whimsical. DAMSELS IN DISTRESS is a dry, witty satire that pokes fun at the foolishness behind intellectualizing emotions, and while it may be too high brow for some, it will surely be a guilty pleasure for others.