Considering how long he's been away -- thirteen years since his most recent film, "The Last Days of Disco" -- there was understandably some concern about the return of Whit Stillman with "Damsels in Distress." Had the dryly funny, literate indie legend behind "Barcelona" and "Metropolitan" gotten rusty in his time away? Would the casting of teen idol Adam Brody, and mumblecore queen Greta Gerwig in a college-set comedy see him water down his work to appeal to the kids?
Fortunately, it seems that the answer was no in both cases; while there are some detractors, as there always are with Stillman's work, word from Venice and Toronto has been extremely strong on the film, with Kevin Jagernauth's review for us calling it "mostly delightful." It seems to signify a real comeback for the director, and the good news is that we shouldn't expect another thirteen year gap. We spoke to Stillman in Toronto, and he revealed that he's thinking about teaming his 'Damsels' star Adam Brody with his longtime muse Chris Eigeman, who starred in the director's first three films.
Eigeman, who's mostly cropped up in TV like "Gilmore Girls" and "Fringe" in Stillman's absence, doesn't feature in "Damsels in Distress," being a decade or two older than the majority of the cast. But the director hasn't forgotten about him. When we asked the filmmaker if he was planning on working with the actor again, he replied, "Actually I have a project now that both Adam and Chris would be very good in so I think it will be interesting to get Adam and Chris together on the same piece."
While Stillman wouldn't say which of his projects he's considering the pair for -- he said in the past he may have jinxed himself by discussing still-developing projects -- he did confirm that he wants to make the Jamaica-set "Dancing Mood" at some stage, but it may not be next despite recent comments that suggested the contrary. "The Last Days of Disco" director also said while the adaptation of Anchee Min's Shanghai-set memoir "Red Azalea" (which he was working on shortly after 'Disco') is something that he "wouldn't pursue," he did acknowledge that the Chinese Cultural Revolution theme may resurface in another project (although we'd be surprised if that was the project he's eying Brody & Eigeman for).
Either way, it's good news for Eigeman, who's been absent from screens for too long, and good news too for Brody, who between 'Damsels' and fellow TIFF comedy "The Oranges" finally seems to be capitalizing on the movie-star promise he showed in "The O.C." Hopefully more news will emerge down the line but until then "Damsels in Distress" will hit theaters via Sony Pictures Classics sometime in 2012. -- Interview by Julian Carrington