Following on from 1990’s critical hit debut Metropolitan and it’s sunnier follow up Barcelona, chin-wagger Whit Stillman’s third feature The Last Days of Disco focuses on another gaggle of shallow, up-state pseudo-intellectuals grappling with love, life, meaning and clutching on to a funky bygone era.
Usually presenting buffoonish boys, Stillman finally turns to the greater sex for protagonists. Alice and Charlotte (played by the charmingly gawky Chloe Sevigny and young chic thing Kate Beckinsale) are aspiring New York book editors by day, but devoted boogie-downers by night. Dolled up in their finest clobber, the pair head to an unnamed, Studio-54 like club, where they argue with the testy door staff, socialise with Manhattan’s junior execs, and awkwardly side-step the night away on the dance floor. All that, plus they talk. Talk, and talk and, when they’re finished talking, they mop it all up with just a little bit talk. The result of two hours’ company with these self-absorbed characters would usually be absorbing enough for us when matched with Whit Stillman’s regularly sharply crafted comedic writing. But the self-acclaimed socialite doesn’t seem to be ticking the funny bones with The Last Days of Disco; much preferring to labour away with some ham-fisted plot developments and jejune romances.
Stillman still has fun working with the thankfully familiar Chris Eigeman as the neurotic assistant manager of the exclusive nightclub Des, whose way of breaking up with women is to tell them that he’s just realized he’s gay, plus Mackenzie Astin as do-gooding ad man Jimmy Steinway who is desperate to keep on the door vlist so that he can sneak in potential clients.
Even with a wonderfully nostalgic soundtrack, technically, The Last Days of Disco is a serviceable effort, but not the bourgeoisie farce third film in the Stillman canon that I was hoping for.