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by Dr. Isaksson

"Just try and make contact with the Seagulls"
5 stars

"Metropolitan" has become my version of a Christmas Classic. Each December I make a note of seeing the film once again and it has now become an enjoyable holiday tradition. I remember renting this film from a video store back in the early 90's when I was a teenager and even though I was not an upper class boy from Manhattan, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I couldn't exactly relate to the characters' lifestyles nor could I begin to relate to their high priced boarding schools, deb parties or exclusive dances but I did relate to one important thing. The uncertainty that greets every young adult as they make their way into the 'adult side' of life. The testing of the fragile wings as the little birdie prepares to leave the nest for the outside world. Nearly all young adults can relate to that moment in time when they now have to test the waters and see if they can sail or sink in the world of the adult. How to become that adult thinker, mover, breather...etc.. Only I didn't have a VISA gold card with an unlimited line of credit.

Whit Stillman's first film Metropolitan made a nice splash in the indie film world in 1990.. The film even garnered him an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay. The exceptional writing is what gives the film it's element of quality but what makes it endearing is the great host of people we are introduced to. The story is simple. During the Christmas holidays, 'Not long ago' a bunch of young adults are leaving an exclusive black tie dance in Manhattan and meet a fellow student named Tom Townsend (Edward Clements) who is about to walk home from the event. The group insists that he join them to an unexclusive after dinner party at a friend's apartment. The group calls themselves the 'SFRP'. Which stands for the 'Sally Fowler Rat Pack'. Their main goal is basically to hang out, discuss their beliefs, dislikes, hopes and maybe get drunk in the process.

Sally Fowler (Dylan Hundley) is kind of the quiet leader of the after parties. She can be described as the hip girl of the group who never really becomes too wrapped up in the endless conversations that unfold once the Rat Pack gets together. The biggest instigator of these chats is Charlie Black (Taylor Nichols). He's a slightly neurotic thinker who believes that 'the upper class is doomed to failure' simply because of they do not have to bother learning how to master the simpler tasks in life. Like getting a drivers license. Charlie's main goal of the get-togethers is to let his philosophies and fears fly into the ears of anyone who is nearby. Nick Smith (Christopher Eigeman) is the exact opposite. He's the sharp tongued cynic whose opinions are not well accepted but with a frustrated conviction, hands them out anyway. Rounding out the bunch is the ever sensible Jane Clark (Alison Parisi) who tries her hardest to understand Nick. The group slut Cynthia McLean (Isabel Gillies), and the group drunk Fred Nuff (Bryan Leder) who spends most of the film passed out. In the distance of this bunch stands the demure Audrey Roget (Carolyn Farina). Audrey's almost Victorian-Like demeanor creates a quiver in the heart of Tom, who never imagined that he would ever fall in love again after his break up with the beautiful and infamously well-known Serena Slocum (Elizabeth Thompson). Yet as the days go on and the group continues to get together, Tom takes a liking to his chats with Audrey which fluctuate between the French social critic Fourier and the writer Jane Austen. Tom's uncertain future with the beautiful Serena and his new found admiration for Audrey calls on him to make a big decision. Can he finally forget about Serena? And will Audrey even accept his advances?

Whit Stillman wrote, directed and produced this treasure with a miniscule budget and with all unknown actors. He directs with an interesting Woody Allen type style, where scenes might go on for a long time or cut off quickly, depending on the situation involved. But Stillman is far different from the somewhat wackier Allen when it comes to plot. Some say this film lacks plot but I say it was never meant to be a plot driven film. It's a film that draws it's ebb and flow from the thoughts and ideals of the 'SFRP'. Nothing more nothing less. But what for me is most impressive of Stillman's Metropolitan is his complete focus on presenting to us a handful of young, interesting characters who have a great deal of things to say about what it is to be a person of their status in that day and age. He mixes them all into seamless interaction with one another and let's the viewer step into the bustle of the group as they discuss everything from 'making contact with God to making contact with the South Hampton seagulls'.

Two of the actors in Metropolitan, Taylor Nichols and Chris Eigeman showed up in Stillman's next film Barcelona in 1992 and Eigeman showed up again in Stillman's 1998 film The Last Days of Disco. Eigeman surprizingly got a co-starring role on the short lived ABC TV sitcom It's Like You Know. Unfortunatly, most of the remaining talented cast have drifted off into obscurity. I did however see the group slut Cynthia McLean appear in a Luvs commercial. She is the overprotective mother of the baby who gives up on the pricey diapers and switches to Luvs! You just never know...

Metropolitan is the simple story of a group of young socialites who talk of social mobility, play bridge, discuss their possible failures of becoming successful adults and Jane Austen's most ridiculed novel Mansfield Park. All during the Christmas Holidays. ***** 5 Stars

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=7069&reviewer=296
originally posted: 03/01/03 16:36:09
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User Comments

6/17/13 Annie G Saw this after "damsels" (which I loved) - it was so-so. 3 stars
4/18/11 brian It's like a Woody Allen film with few laughs and bad actors. Not awful, just meh. 3 stars
10/22/05 T Roth One of the worst movies of all time. 1 stars
10/26/04 Rob Great movie, wonderfully intelligent 5 stars
1/16/04 Anne Witty, intelligent, something you can watch over and over. 5 stars
5/28/03 Doug Lazorik One of my favorite films ever, a charming comedy of manners and conversation. 5 stars
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  03-Aug-1990 (PG-13)
  DVD: 14-Feb-2006



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