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I see a damsel in danger and distress/I see that she is pretty

Violent Femmes


It was a weird coincidence that I had come back from a Violent Femmes concert, where they performed Mirror Mirror (which opens with the above lyrics), and then I watched this wacky western called Damsel. Side note: is there ever a damsel that isn’t in distress?

Well, the damsel in this sure isn’t. But that’s for folks to go and find out on their own (if they’re willing to sit through two hours of this borefest). It’s got a few good performances, but is really a mess of a film.

A decade ago I would’ve said that this is the kind of script I would’ve loved to see the Coen brothers tackle. But, they made a mess of their True Grit remake, so I can’t even say that.

Instead, it was the Zellners (Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, Kid-Thing) — David and Nathan — who gave us this bizarre picture; an offbeat comedy with very few laughs.

Robert Pattinson (find his movie Good Time, one of the best films of last year) plays Samuel Alabaster, a pioneer whose weak stomach won’t let him drink whiskey at the tavern (he’d prefer a pilsner). He goes out West in search of Penelope (Mia Wasikowska, from one of the best films of 2010, The Kids Are All Right). He’s going to propose, and so he brings a miniature horse he calls Butterscotch, thinking this and a ring will win her heart. He hires Parson Henry (director David Zellner) to officiate. Henry doesn’t realize he also has to handle a Winchester, as Penelope has been “kidnapped” and things might get ugly.

This might have had more laughs if Pattinson was doing this movie right after being the heartthrob from Twilight. Yet we’ve seen him since do enough different stuff that this just makes this an annoying film to sit through.

The movie does get credit for great cinematography and stunning landscapes (although I’m not sure how his boat came off the ocean, and he’s quickly in the desert, but then, geography was never my strong suit).

I didn’t laugh a single time in this, although I did smile at about three or four scenes.

The Zellners aren’t nearly as clever with this film as they think. It’s the type of indie movie that regular folks see and then complain about. Especially since critics are mostly giving it good reviews.

It’s got too much quirkiness that doesn’t work, and feels like the first draft of a screenplay.

1 star out of 5.


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