The cast of Damsels in Distress (2011)
The cast of Damsels in Distress (2011)
Damsels in Distress © Sony Picture Classics (2011)

ACMI presents

Damsels in Distress

Whit Stillman | USA | 2011 | M

This event has ended and tickets are no longer available.

Greta Gerwig shines in this chatty and anachronistic comedy of manners – a perfect marriage of performer and source material.

The director found the actress’s inner Katharine Hepburn.

Richard Brody (The New Yorker)

Newly arrived at her preppy New England College, Lily (Lio Tipton) finds herself stranded when her accommodation falls through. To her rescue come a trio of girls led by Violet (Greta Gerwig), who take Lily under their wing and tutor her in their very idiosyncratic ways, which include protecting her from boys they consider playboys and operators. Their mission, Lily learns, is to save the campus from low standards, ignorant frat boys and bad hygiene – while through their volunteering at the Suicide Prevention Centre, curing depressed students, one tap dance at a time.

After a fourteen-year absence director Whit Stillman returned to complete his loosely connected quartet of films, which started with Metropolitan (1990) and includes Barcelona (1994) and The Last Days of Disco (1998). Stillman affectionately refers to them as his "doomed bourgeois in love" series.

His mordant wit and rapid-fire dialogue go hand in hand in these antiquated yet modern tales about 20-something yuppies falling in love and falling up the social ladder. Even the subject of suicide doesn’t escape Stillman’s bone-dry sense of humour and flippant outlook. The Suicide Prevention Centre where Violet presides hilariously features a large handmade sign that reads, "Come on. It’s not that bad".

Greta Gerwig who made a name for herself in a series of mumblecore films that feature improvisation, freewheeling dialogue and naturalistic acting, excels in Damsels in Distress. Stillman’s use of snappy dialogue, stylised performances and droll one-liners, proves a perfect fit for Gerwig, a consummate comedian. Even her background in dancing is given a spin in the film's old-fashioned, all-dancing musical finale 'Things are Looking Up', pointedly from a 1937 film called A Damsel in Distress.

Format: DCP
Language: English
Source: Sony Picture Classics
Courtesy: Sony Picture Classics
Duration: 99 mins


See below for additional related events






ACMI Member


Get tickets


99 mins



Contains sexual references.


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

How to get there

Not an ACMI Member yet?

ACMI Membership is free to Concession Card holders. Sign up online or visit the Ticket desk at ACMI to become a member today.


Focus on Greta Gerwig (6–23 Jul 2023)

There are no upcoming related events at this time.

web - Greta Gerwig - closeup - Greenberg


See more films in this program for less.

3-Session Pass $33–45
6-Session Pass $66–84

Laverne Cox

Goddess: Power, Glamour, Rebellion

Exhibition | 5 Apr – 1 Oct 2023

Trailblazers. Binary-busters. Agitators and instigators. On and off screen.

ACMI building at night - photograph by Shannon McGrath

Plan your visit

Visitor guidelines, information on accessibility, amenities, transport, dining options and more.

Start planning
Hero gnocchi - Jake Roden

Looking for dining options?

Our restaurant, cafe and bar in the heart of Fed Square features a seasonally driven menu developed by acclaimed Melbourne chef Karen Martini.

ACMI Shop items - red and blue colour scheme


Melbourne's favourite shop dedicated to all things moving image. Every purchase supports your museum of screen culture.

Shop online

Join our newsletter

Get updates on the latest news, exhibitions, programs, special offers and more.

You might also like