For Reel

Metropolitan (1990)
October 2, 2015, 7:45 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Whit Stillman
3 Stars
MetropolitanUtterly unclassifiable, Whit Stillman’s debut film recently saw a rerelease 25 years after the fact, but it is a film where what is contemporary is almost irrelevant. The world of Metropolitan is entirely its own, with characters speaking in dangerously literate talk and having more in common with the Jane Austen novels they discuss rather than any specific period in the last century. What’s interesting is how matter-of-fact Stillman’s treatment of them is–it is easy to make clowns out of characters who come to call themselves the Urban Haute Bourgeoisie, but Stillman recognizes some essential truths in their delusions. Anyone who has been through grad school will appreciate the scene where Tom Townsend (Edward Clements) elaborates that he doesn’t read books, rather literary criticism. It’s curious that the picture never shows the debutante balls that are so essential to the plot. Had they behaved and spoke in the manner that they do at a ball, perhaps the posturing would be mistaken as appropriate. Occupying apartments and removed from these occasions, however, these characters are only further alienated from characters that we’re used to seeing on screen, posing at an cultural ethos that is defined by half-truths to begin with.

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