THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO
(director/writer: Whit Stillman; cinematographer: John Thomas; editors: Andrew Hafitz/Jay Pires; music: Mark Suozzo; cast: Chloe Sevigny (Alice), Kate Beckinsale (Charlotte), Chris Eigeman (Des), Matt Keeslar (Josh), Mackenzie Astin (Jimmy), Matthew Ross (Dan), Tara Subkoff (Holly), Burr Steers (Van), David Thornton (Bernie), Jaid Barrymore (Tiger Lady), Michael Weatherly (Hap), Robert Sean Leonard (Tom), Jennifer Beals (Nina); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Whit Stillman; Grammercy; 1998)
“Quirky, acerbic, romantic comedy set in Manhattan during the early 1980s.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Whit Stillman (“Metropolitan“/”Barcelona”) is writer/director of this quirky, acerbic, romantic comedy set in Manhattan during the early 1980s. The chic upwardly mobile young adults featured have decent entry level day jobs and at night go disco clubbing. The feature female performers are two recent naive college grad classmates working at the same book publishing firm, the defensive Alice (Chloe Sevigny) and the biting Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale). They share a cramped railroad apartment with a third roommate, Holly (Tara Subkoff). Both Alice and Charlotte have fun at night at their favorite hot spot disco (a Studio 54 clone). There Charlotte comes across the weasel-like ad agency low-level exec Jimmy Steinway (Mackenzie Astin), and they become romantically involved. His job at the agency depends on him getting clients into the choosy club, which he does through his friend Des (Chris Eigeman), a twisted Harvard grad, who is a manager at the club. But the shady club boss, Bernie Rafferty (David Thornton), hates ad people because that was the job he started out in and considers them all phonies, and threatens to fire Des if he lets him in again.Des’s other pal is Josh (Matt Keeslar ), an ambitious but screwed-up assistant DA investigating the club for its drug activities. Meanwhile Alice and the young lawyer Tom (Robert Sean Leonard) have a one- night stand, as he’s temporarily separated from his girlfriend. Afterwards Alice ends up being wooed by both Josh and Des, as their lives mesh together. All the young characters are vain, chatty and self-important types, who while traveling the fast-lane of the urban night scene make a few growing-up type of mistakes. These missteps are critiqued and forgiven by the sympathetic filmmaker, who understands them and is willing to cut them some slack for their romantic and career indiscretions. The period film accurately captures these young professional types as posers. The narrative cuts through their tangle of relationships, their need to feel entitled and their insecurities over failing. Their superficial lives dramatically unfold in a disco setting, which had a hypnotic effect teffect on me. Unfortunately, none of the characters are worth caring about. But, if you need reminders of strobe lights and how for a brief time disco clubs were the place to be for the beautiful people, this stylish film should be sweet music in your ears.
REVIEWED ON 7/28/2016 GRADE: B-