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Reviews & Ratings for
Metropolitan More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Not Very Different From You and Me.

Author: Robert J. Maxwell ( from Deming, New Mexico, USA
13 March 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A strange movie, full of conversations about crushes and philosophy and the assessment of others. The dozen or so people we meet are all pretty rich and preppy Manhattanites. Metropolitans, you might say. Or, as one of THEM says, UHBs -- for urban haute bourgeoisie. Except for Tom (Edward Clements) who is accidentally swept up in the round of after-parties during the débutante season.

Tom is in a position similar to that of Nick Carraway in "The Great Gatsby." He's smart and educated and he has a little money, or at least his father does, but he's alien to this lifestyle. The others try to help him out. Instead of renting his tuxedo, he can simply buy one second hand from the same costumier. And he really SHOULD have a fashionably black overcoat instead of wearing that Columbo-type raincoat, even if, as he insists, "it has a lining." Everybody talks a lot. They don't smoke dope or get drunk, except for one of the more fatuous of the group who vomits in the bathroom sink and fails to deliver an important message.

There are some remarks that were over my head. "That's not Manhattan, that's Southampton." Well, I know both places, except that from my perspective they weren't that much different.

If you excise the sophisticated conversation and boil what's left down to Basic English, you probably won't find much difference between these UHBs and the people who jostle you on the subway. But there is as much diversity among them as there is among the rest of us. One or two of them are to the upper-middle-class what Stanley Kowalski is to the workers of America. Still, they're just as mixed up as we are -- always falling in love with the wrong person, uncertain of how they're perceived. The one almost-constantly-visible distinction is that, for them, social class and breeding are what sociologists call a "primary trait." It's what defines them. They are obsessed with class in a way that the rest of us simply are not. We take our miserables lives, our out-of-date clothes, the cockroaches, for granted. They take their goyim naches very seriously.

In this, they reminded me of a class of geniuses I once had an opportunity to observe in college. Here they are, a dozen trembling ectomorphs, teen agers, deep into integral calculus and pimples -- and the worst thing they can call each other in an argument is "stupid." When the layout of the movie became clear I had a sense of impending doom. Nothing but talk and intrigue. But it managed to hold my interest throughout. If I was never gripped, neither was I bored. Maybe a background in cultural anthropology helps.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A must-see movie for Jane Austen fans

Author: Jack Archer from Ottawa, Canada
1 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a movie that amused me the first time around, delighted me on further viewings, and continues to grow in my esteem. The script's light tone hides depths that surprise. Stillman strikes just the right note in a story that touches on pains and fears that are genuinely daunting (divorce of parents, love unrequited, etc) as well as the comic value of his characters' earnestness and foibles, keeping just the right distance so that comedy keeps just ahead; all leading to the modest but charming triumph of the shy and virtuous protagonists.

The link to Mansfield Park (the book, not the movie) has been noted by some observers, with a story centered on the mischief some young people get up to while their parents are absent, and the trials this brings for the young protagonists. But this isn't Austen's story, not really. Stillman has done something like what Austen might have wanted to do, had she been a filmmaker in our time. But with his own story, his own times and mores, his own world, his own delightful touch. Considering the budget Stillman had to work with, this is a masterpiece.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

First of Stillman's trilogy

Author: bondboy422 from United Kingdom
14 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw "Metropolitan" around the early nineties. Reviews were very good comparing it to Woody Allen's work. I found it talky and the characters irritating. I then saw it around ten years on and found it truly captivating. It is a very intelligent piece of writing with a slightly Chekhovian feel. You warm to the characters gradually and by the end I really connected with the 'will they won't they' scenario of Audrey and Tom. Most of the actors in this film are making their debut and they are all surprisingly strong especially Chris Eigmann as Nick -- he is very funny and really energises the scenes he is in. Whit Stillman's screenplay is warm, witty, sensitive and memorable -- a gem!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Talk, Poignancy & anti-PC

Author: wmarkley from Ohio
11 November 2006

"Metropolitan" is like a little piece of jewelry which is beautiful and a bit ornate, and still unpretentious (maybe someone else described it this way too--I don't mean to plagiarize!). It might not sound like the most entertaining movie to watch, but for me its very enjoyable. It has lots and lots of talk, which isn't everyone's cup of tea, but its also a refreshing change from so many movies which bang you over the head with loudness, violence and graphic sex. And many of its characters are very likable. People like me whose idea of a good time includes an evening with friends playing board games would feel a close kinship with the kids portrayed here.

One of Whit Stillman's many strengths is that he goes against today's Hollywood stereotype of showing all rich people as evil, idiotic or guilt-ridden. From what I've read about him, he is very familiar with the world of the American wealthy, and so he knows what he's talking about. More importantly, he's also very good at showing human nature in general. In his movies, people with lots of money include nice people and jerks, and that's how it is, of course, in all classes of people.

One funny segment shows the big hurdles that the characters Tom and Charley have to overcome when they try to drive from Manhattan to Long Island--most of us wouldn't have as much trouble, but because of Tom and Charley's privileged background they don't have an easy time of it. Yet Stillman doesn't belittle them or turn them into caricatures. They come across as fully human and people with whom we can empathize.

Stillman also includes moral messages in his movies, but thankfully they are unlike the heavy-handed, politically-correct and dreary messages in so many other movies. I don't know if he is a Christian or not, but he shows subtle respect in all three movies for Christian values, which has been a rarity during the past few decades in Hollywood. I doubt, though, whether Pat Robertson would be likely to recommend his films, as they show a wide variety of human virtues and vices without simple black-and-white messages.

In addition to a sort of mini-epic storyline involving Tom, Charley and Audrey, there are several little entertaining side-shows throughout the movie, often consisting of get-togethers amongst a circle of friends. The slightly eccentric character of Nick is especially funny and appealing throughout, and helps tie things together. Charley, Tom and Audrey are good portrayals of nice, bright but awkward adolescents, and although they move in rich Manhattan circles, they go through much of the teenage angst that other less fortunate kids experience, and they serve as sort of "Everyman" characters.

"Metropolitan" isn't as polished as Stillman's other two excellent movies, "Barcelona" and "The Last Days of Disco," but its my favorite of the three because of its characters. There is humor throughout, and lots of poignancy.

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Civilization Within a Party

Author: gavin6942 from United States
26 May 2016

A group of young upper-class Manhattanites are blithely passing through the gala debutante season, when an unusual outsider joins them and stirs them up.

Leading commentators such as Emmanuel Levy and Madeleine Dobie have identified the film as a comedy of manners or a coming-of-age story. Suzanne Pucci, in her book Jane Austen and Company, compares the film to Austen's novels and those of Henry James, such as Wings of the Dove. For Pucci, the film deserves full membership in the class of 20th- and early 21st-century Austen remakes such as Ruby in Paradise and Bridget Jones's Diary. According to her, the film tracks "the Austen phenomenon beyond Austen, into what (is called) the 'post-heritage' film, a kind of historical costume drama that uses the past in a deliberate or explicit way to explore current issues in cultural politics." Now, I don't know about the Jane Austen connections and all that (though the film does have multiple references to her). I just know this is a brilliantly written story about a follower of Charles Fourier mixing in with high society, and the conversations that ensue. It is like the best work of Richard Linklater, only with a higher production value. Pure gold for anyone of the right age or mental disposition.

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Great Filmmaking On A Shoestring Budget And No Name Actors.

Author: WShakespeare from Vallejo California
2 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Whit Stillman's Metropolitan (1990) is a fine American Indie film. On a shoestring budget, and using no name actors, Stillman cranked out a quite credible instance of Cinematic Art, and dispels the mythology of "big studio Hollywood" in the process.

This is a film that virtually has no tangible storyline, and much of this character/dialogue driven film is set in the cloistered confines of apartments. Yet, through a brilliant screenplay, great direction, and really remarkable performances by a somewhat amateur cast, this filmmaker created a film that features subtle, yet effective interaction within a small group of well defined divergent characters that spout reams of intelligent, and engaging discourse that remarkably holds the viewer's attention.

Given a superficial description of this film, a potential viewer might reasonably conclude that it is an exercise in boredom and futility. That Stillman was able to convert such unlikely elements into a truly interesting, and engaging film is a tribute to his filmmaking abilities. I look forward to viewing the films created by Whit Stillman that came after this debut effort with great anticipation.

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Clever, charming, amusing and, yes, somewhat pretentious

Author: mr_deadly from United States
5 July 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I recently watched Metropolitan for perhaps the dozenth time, and continue to believe it is a small gem of a movie.

After reading most of the reviews I feel I must give fair warning: if you resent the Ivy League, or New Yorkers, or Old Money, or well-educated preppies who have impressive working vocabularies, then this probably isn't the movie for you. For the rest of you, especially if you wish you'd grown up in Manhattan, or wish you had a trust fund, or wish you'd made it to an Ivy, then this is a charming comedy with a heart. In other words, it helps if you are one of the 'social climbers' that one of the characters memorably dismisses.

Tom Townsend, a kid born rich but reduced to the (relative) poverty of Manhattan's West Side by his parent's unfriendly divorce, attends a débutante ball while on Xmas break from college (he's a Princeton freshman, I believe, though it isn't made explicitly clear in the film). He's alone, but is nice-looking and well-spoken, and falls into a fashionable group that stylizes itself the Sally Fowler Rat Pack. The film follows Tom's introduction to, and immersion in, that year's deb season--there's an escort shortage, and Audrey Rouget, a core member of the SFRP, takes a liking to Tom, so he's invited to a series of parties as Audrey's escort.

The plot is minimalistic. Audrey like Tom, but he sees her as a friend, and is still hung-up on his ex, Serena. Nick, nicely played by Chris Eigeman, is a snobbish but very amusing fellow and takes Tom under his wing. Charlie, an old friend of Nick's, has a crush on Audrey and therefore resents Tom. Serena manipulates Tom into taking her home from a party--thereby abandoning Audrey at the party, but she forgives him, although her girlfriends do not. Audrey is again humiliated during a 'truth game', where Tom admits he's still fixated on Serena. A villain is introduced in the form of Rick Von Slonnaker, who Nick despises and defames. Tom realizes that he has affections for Audrey after all, but she has run off to Von Slonnaker's place. Fearing the worst, Tom convinces Charlie that Audrey is in moral peril, and the two proceed to rescue Audrey from Von Slonnaker's estate in the Hamptons. Audrey and Tom are reconciled, and speak of meeting up in France, where Audrey is a student.

These events aren't really the point of the film. What it is really about is smart young people speaking to each other in complete sentences. The dialogue isn't particularly realistic, but it is quite witty, and is filled with allusions to Jane Austen, Lionel Trilling, Averill Harriman, Bunuel, Prep Schools like Farmington (aka Miss Potter's School), the Plaza Hotel, regattas, the Cha-Cha, and the fate of the UHB (Urban Haute Bourgeoisie--a more precise term than 'preppie' that one of the characters coin and is used frequent thereafter). Is all of this a bit precious, a little fey, at times pretentious? Yes. But these characters are portrayed with sympathy and affection--these are not the cardboard villain rich kids that are so routinely seen. Yes, they are privileged (though Tom less so), but they are still YOUNG, and still trying to figure out the world and their place in it.

I recommend the film heartily to anyone who enjoys witty language and would like to spend some time as a fly on the wall at Upper East Side after-parties.

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A fine conservative rebuttal to contemporary social mores

Author: francis-p-connolly from United States
10 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This review will be a brief rebuttal to those which said nothing happens in this movie (spoiler alert).

What happens is only the most important thing that could happen: the protagonist is transformed for the better. With the wisdom of Nick Smith to enlighten, the modern superficiality of Serena and Rick Von Slonecker to grate, and the friendship and charm of the UHB and its standards, he turns into a gentleman.

Tom Townsend's change is made explicit when he renounces Fouierism. Shedding his youthful, abstract allegiance to utopian socialism, he becomes a practical man of duty and does what is necessary to rescue his lady from a den of modern barbarism, von Slonecker's place. In an excellently simple culmination, Townsend rebuts the baron's whiny excuse that he can do whatever he wants in his own house: "This is my place, I can do whatever I want here." "That's not true."

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They won me over

Author: violetta1485 from United States
22 June 2010

I was prepared to hate this movie, even though or because I was one of the extras in it. Most of us were dazed by the mere fact that we were picked for background because we apparently looked upscale, since most of us were sporadically employed actors living in creepy lofts with too many unregistered roommates, creepier basement illegal sublets, and (in my case) an all-female SRO populated equally by out-of-town career girls and old biddies on pension, many of whom were well along the process of losing their marbles. Since I was also being stalked by a genuine upper-class twit at the time of shooting, I had little sympathy for the characters of a project that I assumed (like many other extras) was a student film helmed by a trust baby.

When the film came out, it upended all these expectations. I *knew* these characters: the outsider who doesn't know if his longing to fit in means he's selling out, the snotty guy who's actually kind of sweet, the "nice" girl who's never properly appreciated, and the cool girl who takes her power for granted. Even the way the girls try to support shy Audrey over slinky interloper Serena is true to type. They may be stereotypes, but you've met them too, regardless of your socio-economic level. The pseudo-intellectual dialogue didn't make them less sympathetic, it made them more so--they are *desperate* to impress. Well who, at that age, isn't? Some people do it with clothes or athletic achievements: these kids do it with words. As for the pony-tailed possible sociopath, he reminded me painfully of my stalker--now I knew that these jerks who think they can get away with anything don't just target little peasants like me. They endanger their own class too.

Everything that people have criticized in this film, the stilted delivery, the awkwardness, is what makes it wonderful. It captures perfectly the struggle to be accepted. You could point out that Stillman does a certain amount of this in "Barcelona" and "Disco" also, but then do we ever really outgrow the need to be accepted? Only the settings change.

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The last days of the bourgeoisie

Author: paul2001sw-1 ( from Saffron Walden, UK
15 July 2009

A film about ultra-privileged young contemporary Manhattanites romanticising themselves in the doomed spirit of Scott Fitzgerald may sound unbearable, especially as this is a very talky movie. But 'Metropolitan' is actually quite delightful, in fact because of the very quality of the dialogue - the characters are elegant show-offs, which gives the writer the freedom to indulge them with clever lines. And clever in both senses - the characters are themselves clever, but the writing is cleverer, as the protagonists inadvertently give themselves and their absurdities away in spite of their intelligence. However much you may want to hate these people, it's simply a delight to hear them talk. In fact, my main criticism is that the screenplay falls too much in love with its own creations - as it reveals the failings and absurdities of the characters, it starts to forgive them, which is probably more than they deserve. A final kick at the end to remind us (and them) of the nature of real life might have made this great, as opposed to merely good.

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