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Metropolitan
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  • Get the Criterion Collection Print
    Any true gemstone has flaws and inclusions that confirms its origins in nature. And so it is with Whit Stillman's masterpiece Metropolitan.

    In a passage of cultural reflection, one of the characters uses strained dialogue to identify themselves as a dying tribe of "urban haute bourgeoisie." It was pretty obvious Stillman was trying not to use the term "preppy," and for several good reasons. Among them were that Lisa Birnbach's book had debased the coinage and copper-plated poseurs abounded. In addition, he was also drawing attention to the arrival of international class (a reveres of Henry James?) youngsters gambolling in the canyons of Manhattan (no, the term "Euro-Trash also would not do...especially for young countesses who went to Convent school). He also could not use the term NOKD (not-our-kind-dear) or it would go over the heads of the audience. Ditto "Sloane Ranger."

    Another hilarious passage is the description of organic and inorganic deb balls, and those that required escorts from one of the United States service academies. The irony of the excluded insiders of the inorganic deb ball watching the event on television is Stillman's hilarious allusion to the death knell of the form, intention, and social expression at the roots of the event, and carried on the leitmotif of the televised broadcast of Diana Spencer and the Prince of Wales wedding.

    The other general flaw is the arch, stilted dialogue. People write like this, but I don't think they really talk like this, no matter how rarefied their education. Which makes watching this movie like reading a book.

    But a gem of a book, with excellent illustrations.

    - J.N.W....more info
  • Buy this title
    This movie defines Whit Stillman and is necessary viewing for all his future work....more info
  • Witty and educational
    You can tell the movie was filmed on a shoestring, and it occasionally feels claustrophobic when Stillman tries to imply the presence of nonexistent crowds of revelers, but you simply won't care...you'll be too caught-up in its warm and humane story.

    The movie takes place "not too long ago"...since director Whit Stillman, who based this heavily on his own life experience, was born in 1952, it might take place sometime in the early- to mid-1970's...then again, it might not. The movie feels truly timeless, in part because the debutante characters are acting out high-society roles that became obsolete decades before they were born.

    Although we the viewers know that this subculture--if it ever really existed--was morbidly shallow and self-absorbed, Stillman pulls off the neat trick of making us care about these people regardless. The disintegration of their clique isn't the end of the world, but it's handled poignantly, so that we feel their fear at having to confront an uncertain future. And the way things are dealt with, we're always aware of the fact that these characters were leading their lives before we became acquainted and will continue to do so after the credits roll....more info

  • For the upper-class
    One of my 10 favorite films of all time,sadly forgotten.I think it really only appeals to upper-class people,but then I don`t know so much.Notice sleeping Fred,a colourful background-character....more info
  • A very natural, very enlightening climb up the social ladder...
    Whit Stillman's film `Metropolitan' comes off like a wicked mix of Woody Allen and Robert Altman, making art out of general conversation and allowing us, the audience, to relate wholly to the situation by keeping everything grounded and within our grasp. Nothing happens within this film that could not or would not happen in reality, and that makes the concept and the end result all the more interesting. There are times where the film seems to be about nothing at all, which may be what makes the film so endearing. We become fascinated with the general conversation of these individuals, the whole time wondering what it is all really about, and then it hits us that the film is an exploration of youth in general and it's through these conversations that we get to dissect their lives.

    So the film focuses on a group of upper-class socialites who find their clique infiltrated by the middle-class Tom. Tom is admittedly turned off by the needless parties these socialites entertain, and thus he immediately becomes entertaining to the higher-class preppies who find his viewpoints on their engagements fascinating. As the two worlds come together through interaction they realize that they are not so different after all. They know the same people, they read the same books; in fact it is only a social title that differentiates one from the other.

    The film sheds light on the attitudes that propel these young adults through their lives as we see subtle yet powerful messages sent between parties. As young Audrey expresses her desire to court the outsider Tom we get to see just how the line between class distinctions does not mean there is a line between class in general.

    The script may very well be my favorite script of 1990, maybe even the 90's in general (although that is probably pushing it a bit). It is smart and witty and insightful if one is really paying attention, and the cast of characters is truly diverse and interesting.

    Each and every actor here really does a fine job of elevating the script, especially Christopher Eigeman who plays the devilishly sincere Nick Smith. His portrayal of your typical preppie is so deep-seated and authentic that he makes you feel as though you are standing right next to him, having each scene feel as though it was cut from your own reality. His charisma and charm are undeniable and his delivery is smooth as butter. Carolyn Farina is also wonderful as the tragically underappreciated Audrey, and Edward Clements soars as the outsider Tom. His watchful eye is felt throughout every frame as he takes in his acquaintances and silently judges them, never once looking at himself to see how he should be judged.

    If you are a fan of Altman or Allen then this is a film for you, for it is just as witty, just as conversational and just as natural as either of the aforementioned director's bodies of work. The film may not appeal to everyone; well, it will not appeal to everyone. If you are wanting a briskly paced drama or a high octane thriller then you are looking in the wrong place, but if you are wanting a well developed and smart character study that will hold your attention despite its lack of real drama then this is the perfect film for you. ...more info
  • Book of Stillman criticism available
    If you like the films of Whit Stillman, you may want to check out a new collection of critical essays about his films, DOOMED BOURGEOIS IN LOVE. The essays are extremely intelligent: they do justice to Stillman....more info
  • Your background doesn't matter, it is an excellent movie...
    It doesn't matter if you are not an American, you will recognize the people and the environment inmediately, as they are the same all over the world. A great movie, unlike Last Days of Disco, which showed a darker aspect of UHB life....more info
  • vintage 1980s
    Am giving thought to using excerpts from Metropolitan in teaching a class on the 20th century in American culture. What a striking contrast--conservative, properly attired 18 year olds against the groovy jeans, leather jackets, and flower power garb of the 1960s and 1970s! Today's students may wonder-- Just how far did the conservative backswing of the social pendulum travel once Reagan and Republican ideas gave it a shove? Pretty far, by the looks of this upstart, independent film production. And what better a way to also show the genesis of that genre of films in a time when the big studio houses held so much sway over what was produced, who starred in it and how it was edited....more info
  • GRACEFUL AND ELEGANT y A MINOR CLASSIC
    In this age of gross-out teen flicks and slasher movies, 'Metropolitan' make be the most shocking film of all. A group of young people talk rather than curse, flirt and banter instead of bonking like crazed rabbits in a Viagra test programme, & live in a world where romance could just depend on your attitude toward Jane Austen. The script is rich and subtle, well-delivered by a cast of unknowns, manage to convey the deep insecurity beneath a superficial sophistication. The understated style and low-budget production values won't appeal to devotees of Scorsese/Oliver Stone-style flash. But don't write director Whit Stillman off as a "preppie Woody Allen". 'Metropolitan' - along with Barcelona' and 'The Last Days of Disco' - is more than the work of a Woody wannabe....more info
  • Preppy Luft
    See preppies! See preppies drink! See preppies exchange imaginary dialogue! Really! If you've ever had an imaginary conversation with a mental projection of a real person...

    Everything in this movie is subdued... even the light, the plot, and the fistfights. Emotions are shamelessly revealed under the veneer of civility and the promise of consensual friendship. That the characters are well-to-do (including the slightly less well-to-do sort-of protagonist) either makes the whole ordeal irrelevant, or maybe it just gets rid of the discomforting baggage of poverty and survival so that all of our attention can focus on what really matters: Tux Rental vs. Secondhand Tux.

    The big deal is the protagonist's emotional epiphany that sort of takes place at some point during the movie. The REAL substance of the movie is the humor of humorous UHB ("urban haute bourgeoisie") semi-caricatures talk at each other in various upper east side apartments (there's also something of an absurd rescue mission at the end).

    It's nice to watch movies that don't come buttoned down and serious with socialpolitiking and emotional relevance. Nothing HAS to happen, it just DOES, so... whatever......more info
  • Perfection!
    The Last Days of Disco has been my very favorite movie ever since I saw it in the theatre years ago but Metropolitan has moved up to number one. I love this movie! I could watch Chris Eigeman all day long. His performance is wonderful. It makes me want to wear pearl earrings and read Mansfield Park! ...more info
  • Mundane
    You have to admire a man who sells his apartment and borrows from friends to finance his first film. But as much as I respect Whit Stillman for the efforts he went through to write and direct Metropolitan, I'm afraid I was utterly bored by his movie. The screenplay is not particularly good, the acting is stilted and unimpressive across the board, and I didn't give a damn about any of the characters. ...more info
  • 1 hour and 40 minutes of fluff
    I've seen two-third of director Whit Stillman's trilogy that started with "Metropolitan"; the others are "Last Days of Disco" and "Barcelona". Hailed in their day as comic-ironic films about young adults growing up in Manhattan and experiencing all life's adventures, this movie now (nearly a decade after departure of the optimistic 1990s) seems less original, more talky, and more like an hour and 40 minutes of froth than great filmmaking.

    Part of this opinion is personal. The "life" portrayed by these talky upper crust young intellectual snobs and debutantes in Manhattan that discuss socialism, sex, hypocrisy, Jane Austen and attire is about as far removed from my Midwetern stoicism as can be. It's difficult to identify in any meaningful way with a bunch of Manhattan 20-somethings that spend the entirety of their lives attending white tie parties, slumber parties, leg waxings, beach parties, etc. Some of these people talk about work but none appears to do any. Is this the fantasy of the average 25-year-old in Manhattan -- spend all day with a bunch of like-minded people at dinner parties?

    An element of this film had a certain allure to behavior more akin to the 1950s than 1990s. In one scene, a character criticized another for wearing a rain coat instead of a top coat. All the others wore top coats. This was a scene straight out of "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit", whose book author once said his role in life was, "To hold my man's hat," meaning he spent his life following his boss around like a dog, acting as his servant.

    There was much in this film that reminded me of such 1950s conformism. These facile beautiful creatures -- the same ones I saw in "Last Days of Disco" -- hardly had an original idea among them. They seemed content in their anguished lives to see who could be the most like everyone else, a very un1990s idea.

    As I said, this is the kind of movie completely at odds with my own stoicism developed from living in the middle of the country with its no nonsense, hardworking lifestyle. I pity anyone that aspires to live vicariously through the actors and situations presented in this film.

    Yet there was one part that delighted me to no end. The score, which features classical, jazz and popular music arrangements, included a string quartet version of Smetana's "The Moldau", a tune about a river in the Czech Republic. I was so taken by this little tune I spent 15 minutes humming the thing so I could figure out where it came from! I wish there'd been something else about this movie I could enjoy for 15 minutes....more info
  • I would have enjoyed Chris Eigeman and the dresses more if
    I wasn't transfixed by the precise signals of Tom's lack of interest in Audrey and his overappreciation of the borderline beautiful but definitely glamourous Serena. "Is 21 an expensive restaurant?" because it would have to be to be worthy of Serena. I paused on the channel because I thought Audrey was Charlotte Gainsbourg. Cynthis Farina is so cute and I basically watched the entire movie to enjoy her. I really didn't pay attention to Chris Eigeman who was probably hilariously terrible and the old Carolina Herrera party dresses which were also. This is a movie that I should have watched when it came out because I think it had an effect on people who watched it especially if they were the same age as the characters and I would have recognized it....more info
  • DVD?????
    Yes, this movie is great - one of my favorites - and is meant to be watched over and over again. SOoooo, where is the DVD? Barcelona was released on DVD with director's commentary but not Metropolitan. Last Day's is of course on DVD. There's even a Last Day's book. But no Metropolitan. The sound on the VHS version is just no good....more info
  • The Last Deb Season as We Knew It
    Between the lost decade of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the aftermath of the sexual and social revolution of '68, before street drugs, grundge, and now broker metrosexuals, there was once a different kind of decadence, when youth of parental privilege liberally spent their parents' fortunes but somehow still talked with genuine interest about ideas, all the while facing a dimly growing fear of failure and of falling upon leaving paradise at Princeton. This subtly satirical reminiscence of preppy life is practically peerless, perfectly fusing screenplay, acting, and cinematography. It takes place during the early 1960s on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, among young twenty-somethings who prepped at the best schools and now are Ivy Leaguers or Seven Sisters students, shortly before coeducation and the pill sexualized cloistered college life. Like Martin Scorsese's allegorical concert film "The Last Waltz" (1976), "Metropolitan" is ostensibly about another finale: "the last deb season as we know it". It is also a larger period piece of wit, wonder, and even nostalgia for an era long gone. And as a sexagenarian who once witnessed that life first-hand, I can say with some authority that its tone is perfect....more info
  • What's the point?
    While an interesting genre exercise, plot got lost somewhere between weird concept, casting and stilted dialogue. Not sure how 'realistic' this is. It's set in the mid-70s, based on the cars, not the early '60s, as some have incorrectly posited. At least it's short....more info
  • overblown and overrated, don't believe the hype!
    I sit here with mouth agape as I read prior reviews of this ridiculously shallow one-track mind trash. The director, who also did the yawnfest, Barcelona, has absolutely no sense of flow or wit. And yet critics seem to gravitate towards this nonsense. If this type of casual diatribe is what you dig, then try the Merchant-Ivory claptrap which at least contributes some costume design. Or better yet, see Campbell Scott and Jennifer Jason-Leigh in the Dorothy Parker film. At least you will laugh. Nothing funny here, and nothing interesting for that matter. All you are subjected to is soap-operish musings about class and a kindergarten philosophy that grows stale with 5 minutes of alertness. I really wanted to try to find something positive about this film. Even the self conscious rantings were stilted with apologies. I can't see how anyone could take stuff like this even remotely seriously. Don't fall into the trap and don't believe the hype!...more info
  • So what?
    So What?

    One of the great American myths is that we all have, locked up inside us, at least one great story just waiting to be told. Whit Stillman apparently thought he had at least three, the subjects of his trilogy-"Metropolitan," "Barcelona" and "The Last Days of Disco".

    In fact, it's just one story, and one that is not very interesting. It's the story of spoiled, upper middle class (but not rich, i.e., financially independent) children who think they're intelligent, witty and urbane, but are actually clueless.

    "Metropolitan," the first film in the trilogy, presents this group in New York over Christmas vacation during their last year in prep school, while they are making the endless round of society balls. The ostensible hero, played by Edward Clements, is the down-and-out son of divorced parents, who is adopted by the others as a plaything for the holidays. Unfortunately, he is just as shallow as they. The real hero, Charlie Black played by Taylor Nichols, is simply weird. But Whit Stillman clearly likes him, since he stars in "Barcelona" and makes a cameo appearance in "The Last Days of Disco."

    The most interesting character, Nick Smith played by Charles Eigeman, is a cynic who has virtually all of the good lines. Interestingly, he ended up starring in both "Barcelona" and "The Last Days of Disco". But even he is not enough to save this turkey.

    The used video dealer from whom I bought this video accidentally sent me a copy that had huge yellow Spanish subtitles spread out across the bottom half of the screen. Normally, this would be an irritant, but in the case of "Metropolitan" it enhanced the surreal nature of the film.

    If you decide you have to sample Stillman's work, watch "The Last Days of Disco" first, then "Barcelona." That way, you may give up before getting to "Metropolitan."...more info

  • Perfection!
    The Last Days of Disco has been my very favorite movie ever since I saw it in the theatre years ago but Metropolitan has moved up to number one. I love this movie! I could watch Chris Eigeman all day long. His performance is wonderful. It makes me want to wear pearl earrings and read Mansfield Park! ...more info
  • Absolutely Fantastic
    I adore this movie. I love it because even though it takes place in the wealthy circles of society, it is a movie that expresses the inner desires, problems and longings of every teenager trying to grow up and fit into a desireable circle of friends. The years between our Teens and Adulthood are among our most uncertain, whether rich or poor, plain or beautiful, the agony and the ecstasy of growing to adulthood are wonderfully depicted here. From it's talented (and unknown) cast to its poignant dialogue, you'd be hard pressed to find a better coming of age film. You'll either get it......or you won't....more info
  • A bit talky - but a classic.
    This movie is not a cult movie in the traditional sense, but in the sense in how that word is being thrown about these days. Is it an independent film sure, but is it a campy film? By no means. This is a very dialogue oriented film, but unlike Ivory Merchant films, the dialogue is witty and enjoyable. In reality, this film could easily be a play, and that is saying quite a lot. The plot has been explained earlier, so I won't waste your time. Is this movie good? Yes. Should you own it? If you like thought-provoking movies, that actually require you to listen to the dialogue. It's not a huge film, but a quiet piece that should be in every library....more info
  • The Last Deb Season as We Knew It
    Between the lost decade of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the aftermath of the sexual and social revolution of '68, before street drugs, grundge, and now broker metrosexuals, there was once a different kind of decadence, when youth of parental privilege liberally spent their parents' fortunes but somehow still talked with genuine interest about ideas, all the while facing a dimly growing fear of failure and of falling upon leaving paradise at Princeton. This subtly satirical reminiscence of preppy life is practically peerless, perfectly fusing screenplay, acting, and cinematography. It takes place during the early 1960s on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, among young twenty-somethings who prepped at the best schools and now are Ivy Leaguers or Seven Sisters students, shortly before coeducation and the pill sexualized cloistered college life. Like Martin Scorsese's allegorical concert film "The Last Waltz" (1976), "Metropolitan" is ostensibly about another finale: "the last deb season as we know it". It is also a larger period piece of wit, wonder, and even nostalgia for an era long gone. And as a sexagenarian who once witnessed that life first-hand, I can say with some authority that its tone is perfect....more info
  • Not a holiday season goes by without seeing this!
    This movie is one of my most treasured in my collection. I always view it once durring the holiday season, as this is when the movie is set. This is Whit's masterpiece, although Barcelona is almost up to Metropolitan's standard. I like the fact that these are all unknown actors, as it tends to make the characters more true to life. The dialogue is pefect for the setting and subject, and unlike another reviewer stated, you do not have to be a member of high society to enjoy this film. This movie and Barcelona desrve to be on DVD!...more info
  • Very Charming
    Metropolitan is a satyrical look at social life among the wealthy preppie class. Each of the characters have special qualities most notably Nick Smith's hypocrytical ways. Charlie Black seems to have definite opinions but has rarely lived any of his fantasies. That alone is a good laugh. The different "love" relationships play out in an interesting manner. Its funny how Tom who originally hates the debutante dances, begins to depend on them, while Nick becomes disgusted with them.

    The story shows how friendships can blossom, cultivate, and die out. Each person in the end has his or her own values and goals and needs to not rely totally on a clique for every bit of social activity. None the less, one should not be a loner either. Metropolitan really tells quite a lot in its 100 minute running time while amusing and intriguing its audience. It goes to show you that preppie's have feelings too....more info

  • A Gatsby for the 90s
    This 1990 film by writer-director Whit Stillman is wonderfully refreshing and intelligent. It is sure to please audiences with a taste for the avant-garde or those just looking for something a little different.

    The story follows a group of upper-crust New York preppies during the Christmas debutante season. These are kids for whom black-tie balls at the Plaza Hotel and charming little soirees in Park Avenue apartments are serious matters. They are the UHB-"urban haute bourgeoisie"-a social circle carrying out traditions so anachronistic as to seem alien; traditions, in fact, which were outdated before these characters were even born.

    A middle class outsider and budding socialist named Tom Townsend (Edward Clements) happens into this elite group and briefly livens things up. He shocks them with his leftist rhetoric (he is a devotee of Fourier) and anti-deb outlook, but they nonetheless find themselves drawn to him. Tom finds a kindred spirit in the cynically fatalistic Nick (Christopher Eigeman). Nick is the most self-aware member of the inner circle and he provides comic relief with his devastating ongoing critique of their lives and behavior.

    Stillman's characters seem to have everything going for them. They are bright and educated and come from very wealthy families. We learn, though, that privilege is both their blessing and their curse. These children of status are destined to always remain in the shadow of their very successful parents. As one of them puts it, "We're doomed to failure." We come to realize that even though they are well-off in many ways, they still must struggle with the same insecurities and fears as the rest of us.

    The characters in "Metropolitan" are the kind of people that F. Scott Fitzgerald knew so well. Indeed, if Fitzgerald had been a director rather than a writer, this is the type of film he might have made. It is intelligent and literate with dialogue that almost crackles with its liveliness and wit. "Metropolitan" gives us a rare glimpse into a world that scarcely exists anymore, if it ever really did. It is a real treasure....more info

  • Funny, charming, and moving--for just about anyone
    A word of warning: if you're a smarmy, "class-conscious" neo-Marxist loser who's never loved anyone (and don't have a chance in hell of anyone decent loving you), or if you're a racist jerk who thinks skin color is the only important feature of a person, you won't get anything out of this movie. But if you've ever fallen in love, if you've ever longed to be with someone during the holidays, if you've ever experienced the joys and frustrations of friendship and life as a young adult, then this is a movie to buy and enjoy again and again....more info