The Last Days of Disco – 4.5 Stars
Whit Stillman films are similar to Woody Allen films if you dispense with the angst and replace older urban New York Jews with younger urban New York prep school/deb type WASPs. Also, toss out the whole “big notion” premises of death, morality and faith and replace them with passing fashion, pop culture, and functional philosophy. And since Stillman does fewer films than Allen, listening to the witticisms of attractive scions of varying degrees of wealth as they contemplate their navels is neither grating or played out.
Stillman directed two prior films, Metropolitan and Barcelona, the former dealing with New York City private high school kids and the latter taking two of those characters and transplanting them to liberal, carnal Spain. If you’ve seen Metropolitan and Barcelona, this is similar in tone, content and style. However, this one is a bit more fun loving and free, as it chronicles the fall of disco in New York City through the eyes of several fresh out of college young urban professionals (though the moniker of “yuppie” is hotly debated) who negotiate their first jobs (publishing house, advertising, prosecutor’s office, environmental law firm) during the day and cruise the disco at night. It’s also a little more personal. Even though Stillman has a usual ensemble cast, which thankfully includes the brilliant Chris Eigeman, in this film, Chloë Sevigny is our primary guide and with her we suffer the perils and awkwardness of casual sex for an intellectual frump in the 80s. It is painful indeed to watch her seduction tecnhiques, which includes a breathless, “There’s something really sexy about Scrooge McDuck.”
As in all Stillman films, the conversations that meld college bull sessions and comparative literature courses are the gems, such as this back-and-forth on Lady and the Tramp.