The Zellner Brothers’ ‘Damsel’ is an Offbeat, Unpredictable Western

GameStop, Inc.

Damsel

In their last film, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, the writing-directing duo of Nathan and David Zellner found their inspiration in an urban legend that spawned around the Coen Brothers’ classic crime film Fargo. Now the Zellner Brothers are following up their tale of a modern myth by diving deep into another myth, that of the American Wild West with Damsel. This gritty little western subverts expectations at every possible turn and turns out to be a funny, twisted take on the tall tales of the American id.

Damsel opens with a rather striking, unusual scene, one that establishes clearly the offbeat tone that the Zellner Brothers will bring to the rest of their oddball western. Two men sit there waiting for a stagecoach, an old preacher (Robert Forester) muses on the nature of waiting before shedding his cloth and wandering into the vast rocky terrain. That stranger besides the preacher, a drunkard in search of work, dons the clothes of a preacher and becomes Parson Henry (David Zellner).

Washing in on the shore is wealthy businessman Samuel Alabaster (Robert Pattinson), who along with his miniature horse Butterscotch will traverse the rugged terrain of the west with Parson Henry in search of Penelope (Mia Wasikowska), whom Samuel plans to marry upon their reunion. Samuel speaks mightily of his love and how destiny shall bring them together, how his present of a miniature horse will aid him in winning over her heart. While the trek to Penelope is arduous, it’s the arrival to her location that will prove to be the most challenging aspect of this long journey.

The plot of Damsel is quite low-key, rarely attempting to ramp up tension or grand dramatic stakes. The film works so well because the Zellner Brothers utilize the shorthand of genre to establish a certain set of expectations that they’re going to viciously undermine in the most unexpected of ways. One of the biggest moments of Damsel is entirely unexpected, a total jaw-dropping moment that warps your opinion of everything that came before. It’s really a wicked little twist that blends tragedy and comedy, and changes the entire course of the story that’s to follow.

Adding to the comic tragedy of Damsel is the film’s impeccable casting, headlined by Pattinson and Wasikowska. Robert Pattinson brings a naïve enthusiasm to his western travel with a heart brimming with love, and it continues Pattinson’s reinvention from teen heartthrob to indie darling. Wasikowska once again shines as Penelope, and the dramatic twists of the film’s second half give the acclaimed actress plenty of room to display many sides to her world weary character, none of which involve being a simple damsel in distress. David Zellner has plenty of moments to shine as the unscrupulous Parson Henry and even Nathan Zellner gets into the act with his big rugged doofus Rufus. In a bit part that seems to just exist to simply make me happy, Russell Mael, lead singer for the legendary band Sparks, appears as a yodeler there to serenade a local hanging.

Between Damsel and Kumiko, the Zellner Brothers are continuing to establish themselves as the offbeat mavens of independent cinema. Damsel taps into some themes that are strikingly relevant to today’s broader social conversation, but to give away specifics would constitute spoilers. Damsel is at times so heartbreakingly tragic, so darkly comic, and always unpredictable.

Damsel
  • Overall Score
3.5

Summary

Equal parts tragedy and comedy, the Zellner Brothers’ Damsel subverts expectations at every chance it gets in an offbeat exercise in genre led by strong performances by Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska.

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

FanboyNation
Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
‘Sound of Hope’ is the Best of Humanity in a World Losing its Soul – Review

‘Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot‘ is the biopic...

‘Fancy Dance’ Tackles an Important Subject, Poorly – Review

Lily Gladstone’s incredible performance cannot save ‘Fancy Dance‘ from a mediocre...

‘Empire Queen’ Creative Team Talk New Fantasy Film – Interview

Co-Writers and Co-Directors, Chris Owens, Jason Schulz and Starlet Ciel Post...

Event News Event Reviews
‘Chess The Musical’ is a Product of its Times – Review

It is clear that, ‘Chess The Musical‘, was written through the...

‘The Old Man and the Old Moon’ at Mission San Juan Capistrano – News

‘The Old Man and the Old Moon‘ at Mission San Juan...

‘Holmes & Watson’ Solve the Case at the Laguna Playhouse – Review

Jeffrey Hatcher’s ‘Holmes & Watson‘, Enthralls Audiences in a Magnificent twist...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Oscar De La Hoya Partners with El Rey for ‘Friday Night Fights’ – Interview

The Golden Boy himself chatted with us about Golden Boy Promotions...

Olympic Runner Colleen Quigley ‘On The Road to Paris’

Team USA Olympic Runner, Colleen Quigley is On The Road to...

Paralympian Swimmer Ahalya Lettenberger On The Road to Paris

Team USA Paralympian Swimmer, Ahalya Lettenberger is On The Road to...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents – Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse: Blood on the cactus pt 3

Would you like to take a short survey for a chance...

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – Blood on the cactus pt 2?

Scone?

Fantoy Comics Presents – Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse! Blood on the cactus pt 1

It was really bloody, limbs hacked, heads torn off etc

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs & Sketches’ – Interview

Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs &...

Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her Career in the Arts

First Generation Assyrian-Chaldean, Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her...

Louden Swain Headlining Los Angeles Show at The Echo

Press Release – Louden Swain are headlining Los Angeles show at...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Gameplay Trailer

The first Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gameplay trailer was revealed during...

Wonder Woman Game
Wonder Woman Game Announced By DC and WB Games

Wonder Woman game will feature the iconic hero in a 3rd...

MultiVersus
MultiVersus brings Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny, and More

MultiVersus is bringing Shaggy, Harley Quinn, Jake, Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny,...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Billy Eddy Talks His new Book ‘Our New World of Adult Bullies’ – Interview

Lawyer, Mediator and Personality Expert Bill Eddy Provides a Six-Step Strategy...

Gary Morgenstein Talks ‘A Dugout to Peace’ the Final Installment of his Trilogy

Gary Morgenstein Talks About ‘A Dugout to Peace‘ the final installment...

Chris Clews Is ‘Raised on the 80s’ and Shares Those Life Lessons

Chris Clews was ‘Raised on the 80s‘ and Shares Those Life...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand Demo

The new ‘Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand‘ is ready to ship...

Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the ‘Good Flour’

Canadian Super Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the...

Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is now available to help...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...