‘Damsel’ flips the script on macho Westerns

‘Damsel’ flips the script on macho Westerns

PARK CITY, UTAH — Final 12 months, former “Twilight” vamp Robert Pattinson proved he was no light-weight with a gritty flip within the indie heist “Good Time.” He’s now pulled a 180 with a hilariously oddball efficiency within the western comedy “Damsel,” whose title belies the formidable lady (Mia Wasikowska) at its heart.

Administrators David and Nathan Zellner, onstage at Sundance, described their film’s distinctive tone as a mixture of modern, old-timey and “strains from Looney Tunes cartoons.” As a pleasant footnote to the absurdity, they introduced out the movie’s miniature horse to hitch the post-screening solid Q&A (Q&neigh?).

“Damsel,” shot partly in Sundance’s personal Park Metropolis and set within the mid-1800s, is ostensibly a few gallant fellow named Samuel (Pattinson) on a mission to rescue his beloved, Penelope (Wasikowska), who’s been kidnapped by a dastardly villain.

However nothing goes in keeping with plan, even simply Samuel’s try to mosey right into a dusty city saloon and order a beer: He will get tangled in his guitar strap when he tries to take it off, and he purses his lips fussily on the whiskey that’s the one factor on supply.

Samuel enlists the city parson (David Zellner) and a tiny horse named Butterscotch to hitch him. Their ensuing journey is a wierd, awkward factor, paced significantly extra slowly than in the present day’s viewer will probably be accustomed to. The movie takes the time to take heed to and ogle its beautiful panorama. There appear to be three beats between every line as an alternative of 1.

It takes a bit to get accustomed to the Zellners’ model — however when you do, boy, does “Damsel” actually blossom. (It’s additionally received probably the most unique scores I’ve heard, from the band The Octopus Mission, whose soundtrack is fairly like The Treatment by the use of Sergio Leone.)

Suffice it to say the rescue doesn’t go easily, and that Penelope isn’t the “in misery” sort. She, fairly than any of her suitors, is the cowboyish hero of this story, giving a powerful smackdown to the notion of chivalry.

“Damsel’s” bodily comedy, deadpan dialogue and the occasional burst of bloody violence meld into a really trendy meditation on relationships within the frontier period. “How,” one hapless character laments, “is anybody supposed to fulfill anybody out right here?”