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The Last Days of Disco by Whit Stillman []



Whit Stillman’s third feature, The Last Days of Disco, is set in New York City the early 1980’s. Here we find a group of young professionals who are all, whether they are aware or not, in a period of transition. This moment of change also mirrors the current stage of the popular music (please see the title!).

Alice (Chloë Sevigny) and Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale), somewhat recent graduates of Hampshire College, are working in the lower echelons of the publishing industry. Despite having not much in common (and they can readily admit that they may not be ideal candidates for friendship), the duo decides to share a railroad style apartment with another young woman.

The tight living quarters teamed with Charlotte’s persistent insensitivity create a great deal of tension and bickering. Furthermore, there’s also tussling over potential/previous love interests. An escape from this turmoil is the local hot spot; it’s a fashionable discotheque possibly modeled in Stillman’s memory from his days hanging out at the famed Studio 54. Chris Eigeman, a Stillman mainstay, is cast as Des McGrath. McGrath is a sardonic manager at the said Manhattan club and he ultimately realizes that the owner has some sort of a shady operation going on.

When viewing The Last Days of Disco, one can’t help appreciating the dedication in creating such memorable characters and the overall writing in general. The film is filled with quick and witty dialog… most of which you cannot imagine being spoken by actual people. In one instance, Eigeman’s character begs the question, “do yuppies even exist? No one says, ‘I am a yuppie,’ it’s always the other guy who’s a yuppie. I think for a group to exist, somebody has to admit to be part of it.”

The struggle of social identity and finding one’s general placement in society underlie this brilliant comedic drama.

P.S. After a viewing, one may discover that disco does not suck!

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