The Last Days of Disco

July 30, 2012

directed by Whit Stillman, 1998

Having previously dismissed Stillman’s Damsels in Distress on the grounds that its biting satiric functions were far too dry for my taste, I’d approached The Last Days of Disco with managed reservations. Where Damsels was concerned with the codes and pampered perspective of campus life, Disco operates as a scathing depiction of the early 80s and the flailing disco scene; think of it as American Psycho without the violence. The film follows a group of friends and their quest to make their lives more fulfilling. Stillman’s film excels in depicting the stilted progression of said group as each endlessly lament on the “what-ifs” of their predicaments – the characters do a lot of talking  and very little “doing.” And this is part of the film’s playful charm; the disco serves as a roundtable for the group, partially spotlighted by Alice (Chloe Sevigny) and Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale), the film’s central characters, who are no more important than the handful of others they interact with. Since this is only the second Stillman I’ve seen, Disco’s beats and rhythms are far less distracting than the aforementioned Damsels, which I admit was a poor choice for my first Stillman. There’s a familiar, yet satisfying soundtrack at the core of this film, and several characters worth keeping up with – Stillman’s pension for fast dialogue and consistent social critiquing may take some time adjusting to, but it all blends together rather seamlessly throughout. The undercurrent of security in a time of financial uncertainty resembles our state today, and even as Alice longs for something more, she’ll always have the disco.


One comment

  1. […] ’91) 6. Duvidha (Kaul, ’73) 7. Lockout (Mather & St. Leger, ’12) 8. The Last Days of Disco (Stillman, ’98) 9. Savages (Stone, ’12) 10. Our Daily Bread (Kaul, […]

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