When it comes to Whit Stillman’s arch comedies of manners, the filmmaker has found a pleasant cocktail partner in composer Mark Suozzo, who’s brought musical class to the classy quips of METROPOLITAN, BARCELONA and THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO. But Suozzo’s stylings for Stillman’s bon vivants have never been more cutely enjoyable then when he hits the college campus of DAMSELS IN DISTRESS, as abetted by Adam Schlesinger (MUSIC AND LYRICS).
On a campus whose not-so mean girls speak and behave as if they were from an era well outside the 21st century, Suozzo and Schlesinger come up with the kind of spot-on, romantic guitar and rhythm 50’s doo-wop sound that one might hear whilst “parking” in 1957. An Esquivel-like rhumba and voices fit just as well on Don Draper’s stereo system, love themes carry a 70’s gossamer, easy listening bent, while sentimental strings and violin daintily date back even earlier for a French kiss. There’s even a country march to spare. Like Stillman’s genteel approach, Suozzo and Schlesinger’s talent is all about playing this sort of droll comedy with a gentle smile, as opposed to a self-mocking laugh. DAMSELS also offers Lucy Jules’ Martha and the Vandellas’-inspired “Devil in My Heart,” the Reggae rhythms of Jeff Young’s “Sambola! International Dance Craze” and the downright naughty rave groove of Victoria Aitken”’s “Weekend Lover.” There’s no real distress in this listen. Perhaps more like pleasantly mild all-era pop consternation.
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