Review: Damsel, 2018

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Directors: David Zellner, Nathan Zellner
Writers: David Zellner, Nathan Zellner
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, David Zellner

I did not expect DAMSEL to be the best comedy I would see this year, but here we are.

I did not expect the Robert Pattinson fanbase to be the best, kindest fanbase on twitter, but here we are.

I did not expect to see a movie about incels so quick on the heels of that term coming into vogue, but here we are.

I had no idea what this movie was going to be when I sat down in the theater, and discovering it along the way was an absolute delight. There are some tonally weird scenes throughout this that would always strike me as odd in the moment, but the movie would weave them into punchlines that run the gamut from dry to slapstick, and it always ended up working. The performances are so idiosyncratic and Damsel is willing to be patient and let those performance moments inform the narrative, allowing us to infer the thematic resonance of the movie rather than having to beat us over the head with it (though you could argue it does that too).


In thinking about Damsel all week, perhaps the thing I like best about it is how it deconstructs the myth of the American cowboy. The movie sort of takes a very current, 2018 perspective on men—that none of them are good, or just, or care about the people around them beyond how those people might serve their immediate needs. And the movie supposes that if that’s how all men are now, then that has indeed been true for many generations and the John Wayne archetype likely never existed outside of the movies. And if that is in fact true, then being a woman at this point in history was a living hell (and was before and continues to be, in this regard).

I really can’t wait to see this again and unpack it some more. I really hope people take a chance on DAMSEL, there’s a good chance it’s going to make my best of the year list when the time comes.

Score: ★★★★☆

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