The Last Days Of Disco


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Last Days Of Disco
"What once was fresh, now is stale."

Whit Stillman makes a certain kind of movie. It's not Woody Allen, although articulate and dry. It's not David Mamet, because nothing much happens and no one swears. It's WASPish chattering class comic cuts, with preppy overtones, where a group of friends, who have probably been to school together, talk of books and breasts and being bored. They have relationships with each other and then not. Or what? They have jobs in publishing and the law and advertising. When not exercising debating skills on the subversive nature of The Lady And The Tramp, they discuss the social implications of "yuppie scum" and whether it's a bad thing.

First there was Metropolitan (debs and escorts in Manhattan), then Barcelona (same crowd in Europe) and now The Last Days Of Disco (Hampshire college girls in NY clubland). Although billed as the third in a trilogy, the fact is Stillman's stuck in a groove. What once was fresh, now is stale - the same humour, the same conversations, the same suits-and-ties, the same Chris Eigeman (he of the startled eyes), the same intonation, the same been-there-blown-that attitude. The only vaguely new slant is that Alice (Chloe Sevigny) catches herpes and Eigeman has a coke habit.

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Alice and Charlotte (an impressive Kate Beckinsale) decide to share a "railway apartment" (narrow, with all rooms leading off each other) so they can embark on "more group socialising." They don't particularly like each other - Charlotte is one of those charm bitches, who can't help slagging off her friends behind their backs - although enjoys going out at night to the disco clubs and braving the queues and slipping past the management. Naturally, they attract the Harvard grads, because Stillman knows about them, being one himself. It is the early 80s and some of the guys are into careers and witty wordplay, although marriage is still not an option. Des (Eigeman) is the only one with a half cool job. He works at the most fashionable club as a second level customer check pointsman and has regular confrontations with his boss's ponytail.

Sitting around jabbering about whether Josh is a nutter, or whether being weak, indecisive and unemployed has sex appeal, or whether "the dancing ad man" will blow his disguise, or whether Charlotte's bad back is caused by a lack of male attention, seems irrelevant somehow. The music's great and the ending, when cops move in to bust the party, oddly sad. What are these drifters on the sea of privilege to do now? Talk, no doubt.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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The Last Days Of Disco packshot
Girls look for love at the nightclub.
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Director: Whit Stillman

Writer: Whit Stillman

Starring: Chloe Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale, Chris Eigeman, Matt Keeslar, Robert Sean Leonard, Jennifer Beals, Matt Ross

Year: 1998

Runtime: 113 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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