Set amongst the not-quite-upscale young New Yorkers of the "very early '80s" club scene, Whit Stillman's (Metropolitan, Barcelona) new The Last Days Of Disco isn't much more than a less-focused variation on his last two movies, but it scarcely matters. This time out, Matthew Keeslar, MacKenzie Astin, Chloe Sevigny, Robert Sean Leonard, Kate Beckinsale, and Christopher Eigeman are the young, WASP-ish protagonists whose paths cross as they make major (and more often minor) decisions that will shape the remainder of their lives. Less a period piece than a comedy of manners, Disco doesn't mine its setting for kitsch value, as it might easily have done. Instead, disco music and the Studio 54-like club that serves as the focal point for the group's lives serve as stand-ins for just about any passing moment in history that, enjoyable as it might be at the time, inevitably gives way to something new. Disco is more of an ensemble piece than either Metropolitan or Barcelona, and considerably more time is spent developing its female characters, particularly those played by Sevigny and Beckinsale (doing a flawless American accent). Stillman's arch, clever dialogue is as strong as ever, and he conveys in every frame a genuine affection for his characters, however insipid their actions may be at times. These gifts make it easy to forgive Stillman's tendency to let his story meander, especially in Disco's second half. Still, it's a funny, satisfying film that makes it all the more regrettable that Stillman only cranks out a movie every four years or so.
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