First Hit: A lack of focus, comedic moments, and insightfulness make this film more in distress than the damsels.
God where do I start? OK, the good stuff: There are cinema-graphic moments where the lighting, background, and staging, are some of the best I’ve seen on film in a long time.
However, those moments can be best viewed with ear plugs because of the incessant crappy dialogue immediately take one away from the absolutely stunning pictures that are on the screen. I’d almost like to see some still photos of those scenes again but I could never sit through this film again to see the beautiful moments and great sets.
Even some of the room shots, the lighting, the camera’s framing of the subject are, at times, exquisite. Nonetheless, nothing can ruin a film more than ceaseless stupid dialogue and this film has it in spades.
Are there funny moments? Yes there are a couple of good laugh-out-loud moments, but very few people in the theater audience felt the same way. Most of the time the audience was dead silent – this isn’t the objective of a comedy film.
Quickly, three friends Violet (Greta Gerwig), Heather (Carrie MacLemore), and Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) are on campus of a private school and decide to add Lily (Analeigh Tipton) to their group.
Lily is smart, challenges many of Violet’s reasoning and explanations of the way things are on campus and in life. Not sure where the humor in all this was. Oh was it supposed to be about the Roman named Houses (versus Greek house names)? Was it that the girls run a suicide prevention center (where the word "prevention" falls down and is missing on the sign – that’s supposed to be funny too).
Or maybe the funny part is that Greta wants to start a dance craze because it will make the world better (like the Waltz, Charleston, and Twist). The worst thing about this film in the never-ending dialogue of Greta because it is mostly mindless lacking any depth nor is there any modicum of sincerity.
Anyway, there are a couple of things that were amusing – Greta’s dumb boyfriend Frank (played by Ryan Metcalf) wanting his bean ball back because it gives him great solace. Then there is Rick (played by Zach Woods) who belongs to a religious organization that only has sex through the back-end because they don’t want to procreate.
Lastly there are some reasonably good scenes with Fred/Charlie (played by Adam Brody) who is attempting to be two different people, a businessman and a student.
Gerwig is horrible in this role and I inwardly cringed whenever she was front and center in the lens, which was way too much. MacLemore was OK as a follower and none too bright. Echikunwoke, would have been better if given a larger role. Tipton was the best thing in the whole film despite a very small film resume. She may have a career in film if she works at it. Metcalf was clearly fully into his character and made his scenes worth viewing. Woods was articulate enough but thought he was constrained by his script. The character could have been more. Brody was good enough but again the script focused on Gerwig when it could have made a much better film if the talent could have been used more evenly. Whit Stillman needed more wit in this script and certainly less dialogue for Gerwig. The meandering ways, lack of focus, lack of comedic value was ever present in the dialogue. Stillman directed this film as well and besides having some extraordinarily beautiful shots, this was a weakly directed and a completely mismanaged film.
Overall: This movie was not worth the money spent to make it nor any of anyone's time to watch it.