The Last Days of Disco
starring Chloe Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale, Chris Eigeman
directed by Whit Stillman
The Last Days of Disco is the last filmed but the middle section of a trilogy by Whit Stillman, the writer/director of Metropolitan and Barcelona. All three films document bourgeois in love and yuppie scum in pursuit of fun. What makes all three films so fun is their pre-Tarentino immersion in minutia. Whit Stillman has a perfect ear for the small talk of over-educated twits.
This is the very early 1980’s. Alice (Chloe Sevegny) and Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale) are recent Hampshire College graduates working at the low end of the publishing business food chain. All the people they socialize with are recent grads in their first jobs. One of their college friends, Des (Chris Eigeman) took an unchallenging but powerful position as an assistant manager at a popular dance club not unlike Studio 54. Alice and Charlotte’s mating ritual will include lawyers and low-level executives who they knew in college.
This is part of a group of nostalgia movies that look at the recent past, including The Wedding Singer and the upcoming 54. The clothes, the music, the lifestyles, and almost everything else look ridiculous in hindsight. Disco is a joke to most people. But the people in this film never acknowledge it. They may know it. They may be defensive about it. But they are always able to rationalize their love of this life they are living.
This brings us back to the dialogue. They may talk about meaningless things, but they use their intelligence to invest the trivial with meaning. They may be worshiping false gods by dancing their lives away, but they can give a thousand reasons why. More important, they are sincere. Disco isn’t a joke to them.