© 1990 Allagash Films

Metropolitan (1990)

I remember seeing Metropolitan reviewed on Siskel & Ebert when it was first released and thinking it looked interesting. 20 years later, I finally got around to seeing it.

Since Metropolitan is set in the upper-Eastside of Manhattan and is heavy on dialogue, especially pseudo-intellectual discussions, it is tempting to compare this to Woody Allen films. But Metropolitan is set in the debutante gala dance season as that peculiar phenomenon was in its death throes, and so features a much younger cast than than in Allen’s classic films, although they suffer from the same foibles and neurosis. Also, Allen has the privilege of  working with some of the best actors in the world, while Wilt Stillman had to struggle for years to get his script produced, and then had to use all first-time actors. The occasionally lapses in the quality of acting are really the only flaws here, is the script is full of satirical insights. Not to much happens in the movie though. The story centers on Tom Townsend, a guy from the Westside of Manhattan who happens to fall in with a tightly-knit group of rich kids from the Eastside when they share a taxi after a social dance. He doesn’t quite fit in, as he raincoat, rather than wool overcoat, and rented tux make clear, but he doesn’t have anything better to do with his Christmas vacation, and so buys a second hand suit and spends every night with them. They are such and insulated group, they take Tom’s use of public transportation as a socialist snobbery, rather than thrift.  Audrey, played by the excellent Carolyn Farina, develops a crush on him, while he can not get over a former romance with a girl that happened to be Audrey’s prep school roommate. But the romance is really just a subplot, secondary to the endless conversations amongst the group who believe their privileged positions have doomed them to failure.

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