Robert Pattinson Does all he can in Western Comedy
DIRECTED BY DAVID AND NATHAN ZELLNER/2018
In Damsel, Robert Pattinson is Samuel, a dim-witted doofus in love and who is on a mission to rescue the woman he cares about with all his heart. Her name is Penelope (Mia Wasikowska). He hires a preacher (David Zellner, who is also the co-director) to go with him on this mission. He needs to save her from the man who kidnapped her. And after he saves her, he will propose to her, and then marry her immediately, wasting no time, with the aid of the preacher. Sounds like a foolproof plan, except a fool like Samuel has yet to attempt it.
Damsel has a clever premise, because you can probably suspect this mission isn’t going to go as planned. And the twists and turns in the film give Damsel an interesting subversion, but the execution is as clumsy as the characters themselves.
First of all, the humor in this “comedy” is not particularly not funny, but that doesn’t stop each joke from going on and on and on. There’s one joke about the different sizes of a couple guys Adam’s Apples that just won’t end. Imagine the humor of a Snickers commercial, stretch it out to five minutes, and then put one after another, and that’ll give you an idea of what to expect.
Secondly, Robert Pattinson is by far one of the most talented and most charismatic actors working today. Any film is that much better with him in it. He does all that he can with the material, as does the wonderful Wasikowska, but both deserve better. And on that point, if you have someone as electrifying as Pattinson, without diving into spoilers, it’d be smarter to use him to the full extent of the film.
It felt pointless and written by a marketing team that was taking a break from writing Super Bowl commercials.
The second half of the movie, more focused on Penelope, was maybe trying to get to a bigger point, but it just felt rambling and pointlessly meandering. A dramatic situation would be set up, something whacky would interrupt it, and then the wackiness would be expounded with pointless dialogue mistaken as jokes.
To Damsel’s credit, it seems to be a divisive movie. When I tend to say that, I mean it as a compliment and am on the side of that division that loves the movie. This time is different, I was in pain for the last half. But the response from some in my auditorium seemed more appealed to the movie’s charm and the chit chat afterwards made it seem that the film was doing something different and should be rewarded.
But for me, it didn’t work. It felt pointless and written by a marketing team that was taking a break from writing Super Bowl commercials. Throughout the film, there was a mini-horse named Butterscotch that played as important a role as anything else in the movie. In the end credits of the film, after all of the actors are named, the credits end with “and introducing Daisy as Butterscotch.” That got a pretty loud chuckle in the auditorium. All I can say is if you really think that’s funny, you’ll probably love this movie.